Feeds

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

Vista all over again

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.