Open-Source Developers Covered
Open-source developers will be covered by Microsoft's Patent Pledge for Open Source, even before the documentation is final and the patent pricing is complete, as the preliminary specifications published April 8 are automatically covered by this pledge. That pledge will also cover the final versions of the documentation when published. "When the protocols are completed in June and we share the patent map and licensing structure for each of these, that will give developers and customers clarity," Robertson said. "This is another step in ensuring open connections to our high-volume products."The overall response to the first 30,000 pages of documentation was positive, Robertson said. However, he acknowledged that some people are reserving judgment until they see how the principles are implemented. "We completely understand that and will continue to take additional steps going forward to get the protocol and API documentation as good as it can be," he said. However, Microsoft competitors in the open-source community have responded with skepticism to news of the software vendor's commitment to greater openness and interoperability. Michael Cunningham, general counsel for Linux vendor Red Hat, said it was not surprising to hear Microsoft finally state that interoperability across systems is an important requirement and that it is changing its approach on that front. Microsoft has also denied that its commitment to greater interoperability and openness was a result of pressure from the European Commission, though many remain unconvinced. Jean Paoli, general manager for interoperability and XML architecture at Microsoft, told eWEEK that the technical documentation will be used by both those people-adding value to Microsoft products as well as those with competing products.
Microsoft is releasing preliminary versions of the documentation to get the information out, and to provide the opportunity for feedback from the community in those areas where it might not be meeting their needs or might be incomplete, Robertson said.