"The judge's decision to find so broadly in favor of HP based on the agreement related to Hurd's hiring by Oracle was surprising," King said. "It certainly seems to emphasize the value of rhetorical specificity."
Analyst Ray Wang of Insider Associates also said the ruling held a warning for other companies.
"You're never going to see a deal like this again," Wang said. "You always have a start date and an end date."
In fact, behind the often vague expressions of devotion in partnership announcements between technology vendors, most such deals are spelled out in great detail, said Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Evan Quinn.
"If you were to go and dig into the vast majority of these types of contracts, you would find a fair amount of legalese," including terms governing how long the partnership will last and procedures for renewing it, Quinn said. This is especially true of software deals, which are particularly ripe for finger-pointing when something goes wrong for a mutual customer, he said.
For existing users of Oracle software on Itanium, which HP estimates make up 84 percent of enterprises using the platform, Kleinberg's decision may be a hopeful sign in a generally worrisome situation, according to Quinn. Pure business sense demands that Oracle make an honest effort even for strictly court-ordered software versions, he said.
"I do not believe Larry Ellison is going to go back to his database technology team and (say) 'Throw your worst five engineers on the port to Itanium," Quinn said.
At the same time, "Oracle has been pretty blatant about their distaste for Itanium," he added. And Quinn believes the industry as a whole is moving away from processors primarily associated with one system maker, such as Itanium, and toward standard x86 platforms. "Some of these relatively proprietary chipsets and server combinations, they're kind of out of vogue," he said.