Microsoft Makes Strategic Changes in Technology and Business Practices to Expand Interoperability

    New interoperability principles and actions will increase openness of key

    REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 21 /CNW/ -- Microsoft Corp. today announced a set of
broad-reaching changes to its technology and business practices to increase
the openness of its products and drive greater interoperability, opportunity
and choice for developers, partners, customers and competitors.
    Specifically, Microsoft is implementing four new interoperability
principles and corresponding actions across its high-volume business products:
(1) ensuring open connections; (2) promoting data portability; (3) enhancing
support for industry standards; and (4) fostering more open engagement with
customers and the industry, including open source communities.
    "These steps represent an important step and significant change in how we
share information about our products and technologies," said Microsoft chief
executive officer Steve Ballmer. "For the past 33 years, we have shared a lot
of information with hundreds of thousands of partners around the world and
helped build the industry, but today's announcement represents a significant
expansion toward even greater transparency. Our goal is to promote greater
interoperability, opportunity and choice for customers and developers
throughout the industry by making our products more open and by sharing even
more information about our technologies."
    According to Ray Ozzie, Microsoft chief software architect, the company's
announcement reflects the significance that individuals and businesses place
upon the ease of information-sharing. As heterogeneity is the norm within
enterprise architectures, interoperability across applications and services
has become a key requirement.
    "Customers need all their vendors, including and especially Microsoft, to
deliver software and services that are flexible enough such that any developer
can use their open interfaces and data to effectively integrate applications
or to compose entirely new solutions," said Ozzie. "By increasing the openness
of our products, we will provide developers additional opportunity to innovate
and deliver value for customers."
    "The principles and actions announced today by Microsoft are a very
significant expansion of its efforts to promote interoperability," said
Manfred Wangler, vice president, Corporate Research and Technology, Software
and Engineering, Siemens. "While Microsoft has made considerable progress on
interoperability over the past several years, including working with us on the
Interoperability Executive Customer Council, today's news take Microsoft's
interoperability commitment to a whole new level."
    "The interoperability principles and actions announced today by Microsoft
will benefit the broader IT community," said Thomas Vogel, head, Information
Management, Novartis Pharma. "Ensuring open connections to Microsoft's
high-volume products presents significant opportunities for the vast majority
of software developers, which will help foster greater interoperability,
opportunity and choice in the marketplace. We look forward to a constructive,
structured, and multilateral dialogue to ensure stakeholder-driven evolution
of these principles and actions."
    The interoperability principles and actions announced today apply to the
following high-volume Microsoft products: Windows Vista (including the .NET
Framework), Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2007, Exchange Server
2007, and Office SharePoint Server 2007, and future versions of all these
products. Highlights of the specific actions Microsoft is taking to implement
its new interoperability principles are described below.

    -- Ensuring open connections to Microsoft's high-volume products. To
       enhance connections with third-party products, Microsoft will publish
       on its Web site documentation for all application programming
       interfaces (APIs) and communications protocols in its high-volume
       products that are used by other Microsoft products. Developers do not
       need to take a license or pay a royalty or other fee to access this
       information. Open access to this documentation will ensure that third-
       party developers can connect to Microsoft's high-volume products just
       as Microsoft's other products do.
       -- As an immediate next step, starting today Microsoft will openly
          publish on MSDN over 30,000 pages of documentation for Windows
          client and server protocols that were previously available only
          under a trade secret license through the Microsoft Work Group Server
          Protocol Program (WSPP) and the Microsoft Communication Protocol
          Program (MCPP). Protocol documentation for additional products, such
          as Office 2007 and all of the other high-volume products covered by
          these principles, will be published in the upcoming months.
       -- Microsoft will indicate on its Web site which protocols are covered
          by Microsoft patents and will license all of these patents on
          reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, at low royalty rates. To
          assist those interested in considering a patent license, Microsoft
          will make available a list of specific Microsoft patents and patent
          applications that cover each protocol.
       -- Microsoft is providing a covenant not to sue open source developers
          for development or non-commercial distribution of implementations of
          these protocols. These developers will be able to use the
          documentation for free to develop products. Companies that engage in
          commercial distribution of these protocol implementations will be
          able to obtain a patent license from Microsoft, as will enterprises
          that obtain these implementations from a distributor that does not
          have such a patent license.
    -- Documenting how Microsoft supports industry standards and extensions.
       To increase transparency and promote interoperability, when Microsoft
       supports a standard in a high-volume product, it will work with other
       major implementers of the standard toward achieving robust, consistent
       and interoperable implementations across a broad range of widely
       deployed products.
       -- Microsoft will document for the development community how it
          supports such standards, including those Microsoft extensions that
          affect interoperability with other implementations of these
          standards. This documentation will be published on Microsoft's Web
          site and it will be accessible without a license, royalty or other
          fee. These actions will allow third-party developers implementing
          standards to understand how a standard is used in a Microsoft
          product and foster improved interoperability for customers.
          Microsoft will make available a list of any of its patents that
          cover any of these extensions, and will make available patent
          licenses on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
    -- Enhancing Office 2007 to provide greater flexibility of document
       formats. To promote user choice among document formats, Microsoft will
       design new APIs for the Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications in
       Office 2007 to enable developers to plug in additional document formats
       and to enable users to set these formats as their default for saving
    -- Launching the Open Source Interoperability Initiative. To promote and
       enable more interoperability between commercial and community-based
       open source technologies and Microsoft products, this initiative will
       provide resources, facilities and events, including labs, plug fests,
       technical content and opportunities for ongoing cooperative
    -- Expanding industry outreach and dialogue. An ongoing dialogue with
       customers, developers and open source communities will be created
       through an online Interoperability Forum. In addition, a Document
       Interoperability Initiative will be launched to address data exchange
       between widely deployed formats.
    The Interoperability Executive Customer (IEC) Council, an advisory
organization established in 2006 and consisting mainly of chief information
and technology officers from more than 40 companies and government bodies
around the world, will help guide Microsoft in its work under these principles
and actions. The full text of Microsoft's new Interoperability Principles, and
a full list of the actions Microsoft is taking, can be found at
    The interoperability principles and actions announced today reflect the
changed legal landscape for Microsoft and the IT industry. They are an
important step forward for the company in its ongoing efforts to fulfill the
responsibilities and obligations outlined in the September 2007 judgment of
the European Court of First Instance (CFI).
    "As we said immediately after the CFI decision last September, Microsoft
is committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure we are in full compliance
with European law," said Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel. "Through the
initiatives we are announcing, we are taking responsibility for implementing
the principles in the interoperability portion of the CFI decision across all
of Microsoft's high-volume products. We will take additional steps in the
coming weeks to address the remaining portion of the CFI decision, and we are
committed to providing full information to the European Commission so it can
evaluate all of these steps."
    About Microsoft
    Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq:   MSFT) is the worldwide leader in
software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their
full potential.

For further information:

For further information: pr.mspx. / /CONTACT: Rapid Response Team, 
Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, +1-503-443-7070,, for 

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890