Strategy Shift

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2008-02-21 Print this article Print

The announcement represents an important strategy shift for Microsoft, one that affects its engineers, the development community and customers, Ozzie said, pointing to new add-in APIs that the company will be designing and supporting for Microsoft Office.

These will enable other developers to support their own document formats, and customers can choose any of those to be their default document format.

Next up was Bob Muglia, senior vice president for server and tools, who said that by the end of June, Microsoft will publish the protocols in Office 2007 that are used to connect to any other Microsoft products, including Exchange Server 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007.

"We will also take a .Net Framework-related protocol and publish that on MSDN as well. We are also announcing a document interoperability initiative to ensure that the documents created by users are fully exchangeable regardless of the tools they are using," he said.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, said the announcement covers the sharing of technology information and the licensing of the intellectual property rights relevant to that technology.

Bill Gates discusses all things software at Stanford. Read more here.

The principles announced provide access at no charge to all of Microsoft's trade secret rights relating to API rights in communications protocols in its high-volume products, and, moving forward, developers will no longer need a trade secret license for these, as had been the case until now.

"Instead, developers will be able to access this information in the same way they access any other page of content on the Web. The principles also provide royalty-free use of the patent rights relating to our APIs in these products, so that any other software that calls on these can do so without any concerns about patent issues," Smith said.

Microsoft is also providing a patent covenant not to sue open-source developers for the development of noncommercial distributions of these protocols, meaning that open-source developers will be able to use the documentation to develop implementations of these protocols without paying for a patent license.

But any company that uses these protocol implementations in commercial distributions will have 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, Smith said.

"This announcement represents an important step in a positive direction to address the obligations outlined in the September 2000 judgment of the European Court of First Instance. ... We are also committed to providing full information to the European Commission and other governments so they can evaluate all of these steps. We look forward to addressing any feedback provided by them in a constructive way," he said.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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