Feeds

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

Vista all over again

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?