Feeds

Microsoft's 'M' treads on US veterans' toes

Vista all over again

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Microsoft is in hot water again for again taking the name of someone else's software for one of its fledgling products

It's emerged Microsoft's M programming language shares the same name as a 30-year-old open language used by the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) along with tens of thousands of users in medicine and business world wide. Even the former Soviet Union's iron-fisted rulers and its KGB spooks used the language.

What is that language? The Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System, or MUMPS, which officially became just "M" in 1995.

It's the second time Microsoft has employed a name of a piece of technology already in use at the VA, which runs healthcare, benefits and services for millions of former US servicemen and women. The VA operates the open-source Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, or VistA, it developed using M.

Name ringing any bells?

People are understandably angry. One Reg reader contacted us to say Microsoft should look around before taking another language's name.

Rick Marshall, executive director of the VistA Expertise Network and vice chair of the MUMPS Development Community, called Microsoft "arrogant" and "rude". He believed Microsoft could do this because of its size and because he felt organizations are unlikely to push back.

Marshall added, though, while some in the VA and M community are angry he had little problem with Microsoft co-opting M as it didn't sound particularly medical, which is MUMPS's claim to fame. "I think the MUMPS name is just fine," Marshal said.

A Microsoft spokesperson told The Reg M is a codename for its Oslo declarative language, but - at this point - a final name had not been picked.

M is an open standard that vendors have implemented to often build closed systems. M's used in business world-wide but is perhaps best known for its use in medical systems from the VA to Berlin's German Heart Institute, which conducts 70 per cent of open-heart surgery in Germany.

M was also employed in the former Soviet Union in machines to elect members to that country's governing politburo.

Microsoft has been in trouble over product naming before. Microsoft's hardware/software-based digital rights management initiative Palladium - canned long ago - had to be renamed Next Generation Secure Computing Base after the existence of a similarly named product was discovered. Also, Microsoft landed in trouble with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) over Windows Workflow Foundation, which it abbreviated to just WF in presentations and literature following some heavy phone calls from the nature conservation organization. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.