Non-Profits Join Dispute Over Microsoft's Windows Vista

The chairman of the VistA Software Alliance, which oversees software used by the Veterans Administration, said Microsoft's choice of a name is "an affront to the people who take care of our nation's veterans."

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

August 2, 2005

2 Min Read

Microsoft faced more resistance over the new name of its next-generation Windows Monday, this time from a pair of non-profits who work with healthcare groups to sync patient records with the U.S. Veterans Administration.

The non-profits, the VistA Software Alliance and WorldVistA, pulled no punches over Microsoft's choice of "Vista" as the official name for the version of Windows due out next year. Formerly, the project was dubbed "Longhorn" by Microsoft.

"The confusion created by Microsoft and its choice of the word 'Vista' is an affront to the people who take care of our nation's veterans," said Barbara Boykin, the chairman of VistA Software Alliance, in a statement.

VistA is the name given to publicly-available Veterans Administration software used to store patient medical records. According to Boykin, some 193,000 healthcare workers use VistA in 163 hospitals, 135 nursing homes, and 850 clinics. Both the VistA Software Alliance and WorldVista help medical facilities promote and support the software.

To further the confusion, said the non-profits, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is almost set to release VistA-Office HER, a "VistA Lite" edition aimed at medical practices.

"The timing of Microsoft's announcement is most unfortunate," said Maury Pepper, the chairman of WorldVistA. "Microsoft is aware of the VA's use of 'VistA' and yet insists on detracting from the nationwide effort to provide the VistA electronic health record to physicians throughout the country by creating confusion in the IT industry. Our healthcare system has long been in need of a truly affordable electronic medical record, and just as one becomes available, Microsoft has created a huge distraction."

This isn't the first time someone's complained about Microsoft's name choice. Soon after Microsoft made the name public, the Washington state-based Vista, a business services and software company, announced it was considering its options, including suing Microsoft. Vista also owns the domain. (For its part, Microsoft has registered the domain.)

Other Vistas, however, haven't squawked. A quick Google search for the term brings up everything from VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America), part of the government's AmeriCorps program, to a new telescope called VISTA for Visible and Infrared Telescope for Astronomy, to the city of Vista, Calif.

Apparently, none of them have complained.

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