January 23, 2004 10:00 AM PST

Microsoft to change protocol licensing

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Justice Dept.: Microsoft's 'fallen short'

January 16, 2004
Microsoft, under pressure from antitrust regulators, plans to revamp a program that lets developers gain access to Windows protocols.

The software maker said Friday that it will simplify the Microsoft Communications Protocol Program (MCPP) to make it easier for developers to license access to protocols used by Microsoft to link its Windows 2000, Windows XP and successor client operating systems to the company's server versions of Windows.

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What's new:
Microsoft will simplify the Microsoft Communications Protocol Program to make it easier for developers to license access to protocols used to link Windows 2000, Windows XP and successor operating systems to server versions of Windows.

Bottom line:
The program, required by a 2002 antitrust settlement, was intended to lessen Microsoft's advantage over other developers in building software that works with Windows. But last week the Department of Justice said the program has "fallen short" of fully satisfying the settlement and that "additional work still needs to be done."

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The program was initiated by the software maker as required by a 2002 antitrust settlement, and was intended to lessen Microsoft's advantage over third-party developers in building software that works with Windows. Microsoft said that, to date, 11 companies have taken advantage of the program to implement its protocols in their products.

In an 18-page filing last week with U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the U.S. Department of Justice said that the program has "fallen short" of fully satisfying the settlement and that "additional work still needs to be done."

Specifically, the Justice Department determined that Microsoft needed to simplify how contracts are determined and how licensing fees are calculated under the program.

Under the program, Microsoft offers access to protocols used to accomplish specific "tasks" across a network connection. The changes outlined by Microsoft include a new flat-fee royalty model for six of the 14 tasks; publication of approximately 20 communication protocols that will be posted to the company's developer Web site and available without charge; and an overall streamlining of the licensing program.

After Microsoft's announcement Friday, Kollar-Kotelly said she is satisfied with the company's efforts to comply with the landmark antitrust deal. She said the 2002 settlement with the government was working "as envisioned" despite concerns about the protocol licensing program expressed by the Justice Department.

The comments came during a conference with the Justice Department and Microsoft, held to update the judge on how well the company is complying with the settlement.

Reuters contributed to this report.

 

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