Updated 10:55 a.m., with more details
The judge presiding over Microsoft's antitrust case said Tuesday that the company must release details on how different parts of Windows work together, according to a Dow Jones Newswires report.
The comments, by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, came as part of a regular status conference to discuss Microsoft's compliance with its antitrust consent decree. A difference of opinion had arisen over whether the technical details were required in addition to the licensing of actual communications protocols. Microsoft said it would continue to offer the so-called "overview documents" but had maintained that it was not required to do so under the consent decree, while the plaintiffs in the case had argued the documents were required.
According to Dow Jones, Kollar-Kotelly said the technical documents are "integral to interoperability" when it comes to creating Windows programs. According to the wire report, Microsoft officials told Kollar-Kotelly that they can have a draft version of the requested documentation by March and a final version by the end of next June.
It's an interesting issue, particularly as Microsoft works to more closely tie its desktop programs to online services. In addition to efforts on the application side, Microsoft has also dabbled in linking various parts of the operating system to online services.
Windows Vista, for example, was shipped in November 2006 with a built-in Windows Mail e-mail program and Windows Photo Gallery, a tool for viewing and organizing photos. Since then, though, Microsoft has released downloadable programs that essentially replace those operating system components. Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Mail are more tightly integrated with Microsoft's online photo, blogging, and e-mail services.
The company is expected to take this another step further with Windows 7, the new version of Windows that Microsoft is aiming to ship late next year.
There was also discussion at the hearing over whether Microsoft was losing ground in providing documentation. Microsoft acknowledges that the number of outstanding issues has risen, but said it is to be expected as the company makes more documentation available to more testers.