Tasty Microsoft leftovers from Thanksgiving weekend

Here's a quick survey of some of the Microsoft news from the past few days about which I didn't have a chance to blog over Thanksgiving weekend. On my short list: Yet more on the Office 'kill switch,' the latest theories on what's behind the Microsoft-Novell deal, and a couple of buried tidbits on Vista and U.S. antitrust scrutiny.

The last bits of my Thanksgiving tofurkey are history. Here’s a quick survey of some of the Microsoft news from the past few days about which I didn’t have a chance to blog.

One more time: Is there an Office ‘Kill Switch’? So is there or isn’t there an Office 2007 “kill switch” that is designed to punish alleged software pirates? Since I wrote about new Office 2007 reduced-functionality-mode information that Microsoft shared via a Knowledge Base article earlier this month, company officials have been trying their best to explain the difference between validation and activation – but still failing to answer definitively when and if Microsoft will merge the two.

After reading more articles and blog posts on this than I can count, I’d say it sounds like Microsoft does, indeed, plan to use the same kind of mechanism it has added to Vista to block those it considers to be pirating Office 2007 and future Office releases. If Microsoft is not planning to do this, it seems like officials should outright deny it.

Microsoft and Novell: Could the $40 million payoff be a ruse? The Microsoft-Novell technological partnership continued to baffle industry observers. My ZDNet blogging colleague David Berlind suggested a new – and what I considered at first to be a totally crazy – theory regarding why Novell is paying Microsoft $40 million if there supposedly is no infringement by SuSE Linux on Microsoft patents (as Novell claims).

Berlind asks the provocative question: What if it’s just a ruse? What if Microsoft got Novell to agree to pay the money simply to plant doubt in current and future customers’ minds that there might be cause for a Microsoft patent-infringement suit? The more I thought about Berlind’s idea, the less nutty it seemed. (Or maybe it’s just the chocolate-cream-pie sugar high that’s clouding my thinking?)

And from the better late than never antitrust files: Microsoft filed more interoperability documents to the European Commission on November 23. The latest batch of information, which Microsoft officials classified as a “revised version” of the existing documentation required under terms of the 2004 antitrust ruling against Microsoft in the EU, stipulate how “non-Microsoft work group servers … achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers."

Meanwhile, on the U.S. antitrust front, the U.S. Department of Justice has ruled that Windows Vista doesn’t merit further antitrust scrutiny. A couple of interesting factoids were buried in the periodic joint-status report filed last week. Microsoft has been offering a downloadable program to third-party developers that “serves as a single source for all the registry settings needed for applications ‘to attain equal visibility on Windows XP and Vista systems,’” enabling companies to achieve Vista-readiness earlier and more easily. And since May 2006, “government attorneys said they received 25 complaints alleging antitrust concerns about competing middleware but said they concluded that none of those gripes had merit.”