Newton Aycliffe Joinery minnow's joy after Windows dispute

GLOBAL computer giant Microsoft stepped in to prevent the launch of a fledgling North East joinery company after objecting to its use of the word "windows" in its web address.

Ian McSally and Dave Hennessey
Ian McSally and Dave Hennessey

GLOBAL computer giant Microsoft stepped in to prevent the launch of a fledgling North East joinery company after objecting to its use of the word "windows" in its web address.

Ian McSally, from Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, was set to unveil his new business Vallum Windows to an online audience back in January after buying the domain name from BT.

However, Microsoft blocked the launch claiming that the brand name was in direct conflict with its universally famous Windows operating system.

McSally, who set up on his own after his former employers, John Porter Doors, in Sunderland, collapsed in 2010, says a David and Goliath battle ensued between Microsoft and Vallum Windows once the veteran software company began to flex its corporate muscle.

He said: “When we launched the business we wanted to embrace new technology and so had a Microsoft web and associated email system installed using BT.

“We were straight away faced with difficulties in getting the email addresses and website put in place and four weeks later BT got in touch and said we couldn’t trade under that domain name because it has the word ‘windows’ in it.

“Microsoft censored our domain name, as the BT web hosting software we bought into utilises Microsoft tools, which were used to block the launch. BT became powerless and abandoned the launch, which affected the early and crucial stages of our business.

“The whole thing was absolutely ridiculous and cost me months’ worth of revenue. It’s taken out about half of our predicted £1m annual turnover and that £500,000 will have to be clawed back in next year’s efforts.”

Vallum Windows was launched as part of the Cordex Vallum group of timber-based product businesses, which includes the manufacture of washrooms, doors, screens and toilet cubicles.

Determined not to let Microsoft win the right to his company’s domain name, McSally claims he even contacted BT directors before the issue was finally resolved.

He said: “For weeks nobody was able to assist and I spent 36 hours on the telephone to BT trying to get it sorted out as well as numerous emails to BT board directors. I wasn’t going to cave in because that was the name of my company and I wanted it to remain so.

“The total period of distress was about four months before I was finally able to keep my chosen web address. I’m proud of our team for persisting in this matter, even though it’s taken a lot out of us. It was a case of the big man against the small man and I’m relieved we’ve finally come out on top.”

A spokesperson for BT said: “If you have a domain name that contains the word ‘Windows’ it is barred because it conflicts with Microsoft’s products.

“It was not an overly awkward process to get around but it’s a very little-known process and we only discovered it from dealing with this customer.

“It’s not something our advisers come across every day so we had to call in a specialist to get the domain name okayed with Microsoft for Mr McSally.”

Microsoft failed to provide a comment.

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