The company's new product, TurboExcel, speeds up Excel spreadsheets as much as 300 times, secures and protects proprietary spreadsheet methodologies, and makes Excel spreadsheets instantly portable to other systems, including those running on Linux.
"Microsoft has never been granted a registered trademark on Excel," said Rich Tanenbaum, founder of Savvysoft. "In fact, they waited 19 years just to apply. Plus, there are over a hundred third-party products with Excel in their name," continued Tanenbaum. "In fact, Microsoftâs own website actually offers downloads of over a dozen products with Excel in their name that are offered by third-parties. As any trademark lawyer will tell you, when youâve got a trademark, and you let other companies use it, you lose it."
Tanenbaum noted that Microsoft's own trademark web site lists dozens of trademarks, but does not mention Excel.
"Microsoft's actions over the years have been consistent with that of a company that does not own the Excel mark," said Tanenbaum. "Before naming our product, we checked pretty carefully on the use of the word Excel. To be honest, we don't know why Microsoft is singling us out."
Tanenbaum suspects that Microsoft sees TurboExcel as a threat because it allows Excel models to be instantly converted into C++, which can then be run on not only Windows, but also Linux. IT departments can thus eliminate their dependency on Excel spreadsheets by moving business logic to corporate systems where they can be integrated and made secure. "If all the business logic written in Excel moves to C++, itâs the death knell for Microsoft's spreadsheet monopoly," said Tanenbaum.
Ironically, Savvysoft's product could help Microsoft sell more copies of Excel because it allows people to use Excel in a novel way. People can, for the first time, use Excel to write computer programs in C++. Excel becomes a programming tool.
Tanenbaum notes that the product has already received positive reviews in InfoWorld, ComputerWorld Canada, and Institutional Investor. It has also been the subject of a number of lively discussions on blogs and Internet newsgroups.
"We're faced with a choice," says Tanenbaum. "We can fight Microsoft at a cost of half a million dollars or more. Or we can pay tens of thousands of dollars to replace all our sales and marketing material and redo every bit of publicity. But even then, you canât put a dollar value on intangibles like goodwill and brand recognition."
Tanenbaum continues "Microsoft is telling its developers: 'Please develop for our products and platform. But if youâre successful, we'll sue you..'"