Microsoft and Novell Resolve Patent Dispute

Notice how the patent angle is front and center in this announcement? Apparently, Microsoft was infringing on a patent that Novell held for server security, something to do with authentication and if Novell was to enforce it, it would be very big and very costly. Can you imagine how distasteful it must have been for Microsoft to sign a deal to promote Linux?

Microsoft and Novell Announce Broad Collaboration on Windows and Linux Interoperability and Support: Companies also announce a patent agreement covering proprietary and open source products.:
The two companies also announced an agreement to provide each other’s customers with patent coverage for their respective products.

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Blogger Relations at Adobe, Oracle and SAP (and a bit of IBM, Microsoft, Sun)

James posted a really good piece on the different approaches that the big vendors are taking with regard to bloggers. There’s one quote in here that I want to highlight and address:

Of course Jeff Nolan was instrumental in getting SAP more blog savvy, but anyone that gives him sole credit for the company’s efforts is on crack. Nolan didn’t singlehandedly change SAP any more than Scoble did Microsoft. These guys are change agents, but they fit within a cultural context. Corporate troublemakers without very understanding bosses don’t last very long.)

He is spot on right with that observation and I’m glad he said it because it brings up the most important thing that large companies can do to be successful with next generation influencer models – embrace the people that make trouble. I couldn’t possibly change SAP because I pissed too many people in power off (it got so bad with Peter Graf that he would barely growl out a “hello” to me in the hallway). I was proud to walk around everyday with “so what, fire me” written on my shirt for everyone to see, and were it not for a lot of people above me who gave me cover and stepped in front of me when the bullets were flying, well we wouldn’t even be talking about it now.

People like Mark Finnern, Thomas Otter, Frank Koehntopp, Mark Crofton, and others are equally culpable in the success that SAP is having with bloggers. Personally, I think Thomas is one of the pre-eminent technology bloggers in Europe and SAP is lucky to have him. Mike Prosceno doesn’t have a blog, but I give the guy a lot of credit for taking me on face value when I told him it would be a really good idea to bring bloggers to Sapphire, and more importantly for putting his resources (Karen and Stacy) on it to make it happen. The logistics and cost for doing events with bloggers is really pretty daunting, if you don’t put the resources into it then it will surely come out half-ass, but SAP is setting the gold standard as far as this is concerned.

UPDATE: I was remiss in not including Charles Zedlewski’s blog in the list of prominent SAP bloggers. Charles is one of the smartest SAP guys in Palo Alto and is tough to beat in an argument.

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Website Design: The USPS website is a piece of crap

Tried to buy some stamps from the USPS website today… here’s the experience:

1) requires me to “register” as opposed to making a one-time “guest” purchase

2) select a username, type a password (twice) and a password hint (which for whatever reason is a “masked” entry meaning you can’t see what you are typing

3) hit “OK” and it tells me my password is inadequate, they require minimum 6 characters, one uppercase, and at least 1 numerical digit. Of course, they also DISCARD all the data in the fields I just entered and make me re-enter everything

4) do it again, hit okay… rejected because the username I selected is already in use. They suggest some options, and of course, they DISCARD all the data again so I have to enter it for a 4th time (took me one extra trip to figure out the password.

5) select a roll of stamps, go to the checkout and enter my shipping address and my credit card details. They ask me for billing address and I have to add a new entry to the address book for my home address (billing). Click “ok” and discover that they have DISCARDED all the credit card information I entered so now I have to do it again.

6) enter my credit card data, select my home billing address and click okay.


7) so now I am pissed because I wasted 15 minutes figuring out their electronic commerce system just to buy a stupid roll of stamps when they could have just stopped me from even trying if their authorization system isn’t available, I still don’t have any stamps, and I’m thinking that I can just use Fedex for everything.

When will businesses, of all stripes, figure out that the customer experience they provide with their online systems is increasingly forming the opinions that people have of their organization as a whole?

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