Microsoft Corp. plans to open up more of its proprietary source code to allow greater interoperability between different server operating systems and its Windows client and server operating systems.
Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler told eWeek on Tuesday that the Redmond, Wash.-based software firm would release the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol later this summer to comply with the provisions of the proposed final settlement between it and the Department of Justice in that antitrust case.
"We will also be licensing additional protocols in the coming months, on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, for the purposes of interoperating with the Windows 2000 and Windows XP client operating systems," Desler said, declining to give specific details.
The news follows Microsofts announcement on Tuesday that it would also license the core Common Internet File System (CIFS) protocol "in a way that will allow other companies to create their own implementation of core CIFS for use on non-Windows client and server operating systems, on a royalty-free basis."
The move is designed to address some of the issues under investigation by the European Commission.
Microsoft implemented the CIFS protocol in Windows NT 4.0, where it is used for network file access in Microsoft Windows NT. Client systems use CIFS to request file and print services from server systems over a network. This is based on the SMB protocol, which is widely used in personal computers and workstations, Desler said.
The latest moves to share code and protocols follow Microsofts announcement last month that it was making available the technical information necessary to interoperate with its implementation of the Kerberos security protocol.
Microsoft also recently announced that it was giving systems integrators access to Windows source code under the Systems Integrator Source Licensing Program (SISLP).
Desler said that none of the three latest moves were necessary under the proposed settlement—also known as the consent decree—in the antitrust case between Microsoft and the Department of Justice, which requires Microsoft to disclose to third parties any communications protocol implemented in a Windows desktop operating system that is used to interoperate with a Microsoft server operating system.
"The CIFS, Kerberos and SISLP announcements are above and beyond the conditions of the consent decree. As such, this is yet another step we are taking to enhance the interoperability of Windows clients with non-Microsoft operating systems," he said.
But they do specifically target issues raised in the European Commissions investigation of Microsoft for allegedly designing its Windows operating system to work better with its own server software than that of rivals. The commission is also concerned that Microsoft has allegedly tied its Windows Media Player software to its operating system.
Desler confirmed that CIFS, like Kerberos, was a "key issue" in the competition case currently under investigation in the European Union.
"By dealing with the commissions stated concerns on both issues, Microsoft is demonstrating its commitment to resolving competition issues proactively. Todays move was not required by the European Commission, but it seeks to address concerns expressed by the EC," he said.
Microsoft was also waiting to hear if the middleware provisions of the proposed settlement with the Justice Department adequately addressed the commissions concerns about the alleged tying of the Windows Media Player to its operating system, Desler said.