back to article Microsoft dishes up interoperability version 1.0

Microsoft, in its latest attempt to play nice with pesky EU regulators, has published protocol documentation for its Office 2007, SharePoint 2007, and Exchange Server 2007 products. The software multinational lifted the lid on 14,000 pages of sketchy versions of tech documentation for core software code in April this year, in …


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  1. Britt Johnston
    Thumb Up

    the EU could buy a licence, ..

    for europeans in the club.

    It might be a good use for the fines that keep rolling in.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    so in other words

    M$ say we are doing interopable stuff to help the open source community who want to interact with our products. Here is 14000 pages.

    It's not smoke and mirrors, it is a great big pile of doo-doo.

    Anyone read it, and actually started work on open source versions that plug into M$?

    Or am I missing the point of being interopable.

  3. Trey Pattillo

    Not Available for ALL

    And according to the OSP still excludes any GPL based applications such as OpenOffice

    see Groklaw:

  4. Glen Turner


    > the EU could buy a licence

    Because it is a one-off cost the Samba project has a contributor who is willing to pay the royalty. So you program need only be part of the Samba family of GPL software to be licensed for free for the protocols which were part of EU's penalty for Microsoft's misbehaviour.

    > And according to the OSP still excludes any GPL based applications such as OpenOffice

    It's more complicated then that. There are four things in flight here.

    Firstly, the publications of protocols required by the EU. The OSP is not acceptable to the EU for these protocols. However the OSP is *offered* in addition to the EU-acceptable license. So be very careful to collect your files using the license you find most favourable (ie, the EU one).

    Secondly, the publication of protocols and file formats required by US DoJ. The OSP is acceptable to the DoJ for these protocols.

    Thirdly, a straight-forward licensing programme in the tradition of 1980's IBM. The default protocols for Exchange 2007 and Sharepoint 2007 have changed. Rather than lose interoperability (say, with Blackberry, which would push executives to Apple tomorrow) MS are taking the opportunity to make money.

    Fourthly, a move to forestall complains about missing documentation of past file formats referenced by OOXML. ISO has found the OSP acceptable (the ISO CEO ruled by fiat that it was acceptable and thus out of scope for further discussion).

    Microsoft have conflated all of those things in the one media release.

  5. Mark

    Re: Licensing

    No, the GPL allows you to reuse the code in any GPL project, no matter what the purpose.

    See "freedom 0".

    (note: this is also why the Tivo thing is against the GPL and always has been, it's just been weaseled out of).

  6. Anonymous Coward

    I fail to see

    What is acceptable about licensing protocols.

    Surely, you can copyright a programme and license its use, but you cannot copyright the semaphore? Is each packet trademarked?

  7. Anonymous Coward

    A merry dance.

    They can keep the IT world (and the EU) dangling for years with this tactic. Resist, pretend to comply - release bazillions of pages of technical guff with stupid restrictive conditions attached, resist when you are criticised for it. Release more pages of guff. Wash, rinse repeat.

    Short of arresting Ballmer and holding him hostage or forcibly breaking up Microsoft there isn't anything that anyone can do except keep on at them.

    Besides - if they don't do something about their prices, their code and their OS no one will be using MS in 10 years.

    ...and we'll all be still here wondering how Apple went from uber-cool to uber-stupid and when is someone going to stand up to them and force them to play nice.

    It isn't so much Microsoft as it is "acceptable corporate practice" that needs to be seriously changed.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Maybe with the release of these file format documents my report generation software will get better at exporting into word/excel.

    Doubt it though, my reporting systems have two major things going against them MS vague documentation and crystal reports.

    take that big corporations.

    paris hilton because her career path is just as ambigious and vague.

  9. The Other Steve
    Gates Horns

    Developers, Developers, Developers

    A bit like "Education, Education, Education", this rings increasingly hollow. One of the things that keeps MS in its dominant position is the (perceived) "Must Haves" like Exchange Server, making it difficult or costly to interoperate with their core platforms is the kind of thing that pisses developers off, the kind of thing that causes them to petition their Pointy Haired Bosses to look at different core kit. $10,000 is a shed load of money for a small coding shop, and could be much better spent than buying the right to look at some MS documentation. especially if it's up to their usual eye watering standards (if you are good at deciphering MS documentation, you should have this listed as a separate skill on your CV).

    By forcing them to pony up, the EU are actually doing MS a massive favour, because allowing small developers and FOSS projects to interoperate with MS platforms actually strengthens their position in those markets.

    I'd expect them to be worried about FOSS projects, since they equate FOSS with GNU/linux and perceive it as a threat to their desktop monopoly (wrongly IMHO, since projects like Samba are for people who still want to use MS products, if you were going all *nix, why would you want windows servers ?), which after all, likely pays their bills, but trying to price out closed source commercial efforts, like a small team developing custom apps in house, or a small ISV seems utterly counter productive.

    They could have saved themselves the grief, and the cash, by just opening up the protocols in the first place. With the exception of a notable few, FOSS developers don't particularly want to interoperate with Windows server boxen anyway, but many WIndows developers are frothing at the mouth for the chance to do just that. I mean, like, duh!

    Come on Ballmer, if you really love us, show us your knickers.

  10. shaun

    and the more they mess about......

    ...........the more fines they get, i like it.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    re: 10k is a shedload

    $10k or £5k, is less than a third of an £18k entry-level coders salary, and for those who can't/wont pay there is the samba workaround

    (ie ship your product with a GPLed samba and interface with it - or am i being nieve?)

    so either a)

    small ISV is writing a custom product for a client, bids would factor in the licence fees (that would be the same for all bidders - regardless of size - unless the software isnt new)


    isv makes a single closed source product that forms the core of its business, with other custom modules interfaced to it (a way round the single licence per product perhaps? make it all the same product, but "customised"). Given the amount of money this could be worth to the ISV, ie 4 months of uni-graduate time vs a "customised" product that can be sold for $$$ multiple times - it doesnt seem like a hard choice. (although could be leagally shaky)

    c)isv licences a competitors "core product" and atempts to undercut on the customisations. Of course, that assumes that the competitor is scared enough of an anti-trust case that it will license the core product in "fair and non-discriminatory" terms


    isv modifies samba because it feels it cant afford the ms tax, and releases the modified code under the GPL, otherwise the same as (b). However it leaves the door open to replace the "modified samba" at a later date once the isv can stump up the cash.

    to be fair these points assume a great deal (like the ms-samba being GPLed, me actually undertanding the license terms, me being cafeened up past my bedtime :S)

    Either way, the point stands. A one man band fresh out of uni, investing the equivelent of 4 months income into a new business doesn't sound that far fetched. If it does, then the economy is in a far worse state than i thought...

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