Yesterday Microsoft unveiled what they termed as “a set of broad-reaching changes to its technology and business practices to increase the openness of its products and drive greater interoperability“. 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.
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.
The gory details are available by following the link but the net is that Microsoft is doing the following (my comments in italics):
It’s easy to denigrate this as yet another Microsoft interoperability pledge, but on the face of it there are significant improvements in this announcement including the open publication of the documentation and the covenant not to sue non-profit developers. Still the devil is in the details and this initiative is clearly less than what open source competitors want so it is a bit early to claim it as a breakthrough.
As for the intended audience of this announcement, it seems clear that it is an attempt to placate antitrust regulators around the world and particularly in the European Union. Microsoft’s tardiness in providing interoperability information got them spanked in both the recent US and EU antitrust cases and this seems to be a peace offering. Unsurprisingly, the initial EU reaction is just as equivocal as mine.