February 22, 2008 10:13 AM PST

Week in review: Microsoft the magnanimous?

Microsoft says it wants to get along better with other software makers.

Company executives detailed steps they say will help the software giant comply with antitrust legal requirements and announced changes in its business practices to work better with software from other providers, including open-source communities. Microsoft plans to publish reams of documentation around its communication protocols to make it easier for third parties to connect to Microsoft products.

It also pledged not to sue open-source developers who create noncommercial software based on Microsoft's protocols.

The measures build on previous commitments to interoperability, standards support, and dialogue with open-source developers that the company has made over the past three years.

Specifically, Microsoft said it will publish the documentation for the application programming interfaces and communications protocols in its "high-volume products." Developers do not need to buy a license or pay a royalty to access the information.

As a first step, Microsoft will publish protocols for communicating with Windows Server, which had previously only been available under a trade secret license. Protocols for interoperability with Office 2007 will be published in the coming months, the company said.

Microsoft said the pledge will ultimately extend to Windows Vista, the .Net Framework, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2007, Exchange Server 2007, and Office SharePoint Server 2007.

Executives said the steps will help it comply with obligations dictated by the European Court of First Instance in September, as well as help Microsoft compete in a marketplace that increasingly values interconnected systems.

"In a more connected, services-oriented world...one of the greatest value-adds in some sense is what people do on the other end of the wire," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said.

However, the European Commission expressed doubt regarding the announcement claiming a move toward greater interoperability. In a statement, the Commission said that while it would welcome greater interoperability, Microsoft had made similar announcements before.

"The Commission would welcome any move towards genuine interoperability," the statement says. "Nonetheless, the Commission notes that today's announcement follows at least four similar statements by Microsoft in the past on the importance of interoperability."

CNET News.com readers appeared suspicious of Microsoft's announcement, as well as a little bitter.

"This latest 'generous' offering of cooperation evidences only the final capitulation of a band of thugs who now realize they can no longer bully their way around the sandbox, and are thus facing up to the reality that their fake technology will likely be irrelevant with a decade," wrote one reader to the News.com TalkBack forum.

Although programmers now are apparently free to reproduce the software, Microsoft's generosity ends when the software crosses the threshold from project to commercial product.

"Microsoft is providing a covenant not to sue open-source developers for development or noncommercial distribution of implementations of these protocols," the company said. "Companies that engage in commercial distribution of these protocol implementations will be able to obtain a patent license from Microsoft, as will enterprises that obtain these implementations from a distributor that does not have such a patent license."

In other Microsoft news, the software giant stopped automatically distributing a prerequisite piece of software for Vista Service Pack 1, following some customer complaints that it had caused system problems. Servicing stack update KB937287, released last week, contained updates to Windows Vista installation software, and was billed as being "necessary to successfully install and to remove Windows Vista SP1 (Service Pack 1) on all versions of Windows Vista."

Microsoft published a list of programs that will not work or that will suffer from reduced functionality after the installation of Vista Service Pack 1. The list of programs consists mostly of security applications, such as Trend Micro Internet Security 2008. However, programs such as The New York Times Reader application also feature on the list. Users are advised to install updates from the application vendor to fix the problem.

The list is not considered to be comprehensive, and Microsoft has asked users who encounter problems with other applications to first restart their PC and, if they still encounter problems, to install a newer version of the program or contact the software vendor.

The software maker also said that it plans on March 11 to deliver the first update to Office 2008 for Mac, delivering several key fixes. At the same time though, it has again pushed out the release of converters needed by users of Office 2004 to read documents saved in the new XML file formats used by Office 2007 for Windows.

R.I.P. HD DVD
For Toshiba, when it rain it pours, so the company threw in the towel on its HD DVD format.

The deluge began in January at the Consumer Electronics Show when Warner Bros. Entertainment announced that it would stop making HD DVD discs and will become a Blu-ray-only studio at the end of May. That move was soon followed by online video rental company Netflix, electronics retailer Best Buy, and retail giant Wal-Mart Stores.

CONTINUED: Gates is a people person…
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16 comments

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It sounds to me like Microsoft is in it's Final Throes.....
Concerning open source software and Microsoft's historical policy towards it.....

If I can borrow a quote from Mahatma Gandhi...

-----

First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win.


(Describing the stages of a winning strategy of nonviolent activism.)

Microsoft has undergone all of these stages. They had tons of FUD getting cranked out every week aimed at IBM about how Windows would be cheaper. How they find Linux to be more "expensive" and so on....

The laughing part.... There def. was some laughing at FireFox ( <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.getfirefox.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.getfirefox.com/</a> ) for example. Since FireFox is a mostly open project. Microsoft said Firefox would barely get market share.

Then Microsoft started saying how a whole slue of people are using their ("I wont tell you which ones") patents as M$ claimed......

And once SCO's case against Novell didn't work and it slammed M$, and their efforts--- towards thwarting the tide of change now they want to partner with everybody.....

So HAHA we win... I'm still not going to use it though the momentum on the third party stuff is just what we need..... VIVA LA DESKTOP!!!!
Posted by JCPayne (820 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Desktop Libera!!!
e o m.
Posted by JCPayne (820 comments )
Link Flag
MS laughing
I recall Balmer laughing off the iPhone too. Who's laughing now?!
Posted by edgedesign (290 comments )
Link Flag
"Almost There...."; so sang "Elvis" the "King"!
Re: "If I can borrow a quote from Mahatma Gandhi..."

-----

"First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win.


(Describing the stages of a winning strategy of nonviolent activism.)

Microsoft has undergone all of these stages. They had tons of FUD getting cranked out every week aimed at IBM about how Windows would be cheaper. How they find Linux to be more "expensive" and so on...."

OS/2 Lives, OS/2 Is Dead - Again; So, now that the world will be able to access the "30,000 pages documenting all the APIs and communications protocols that Microsoft products use to connect to Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista (including the .Net Framework)..."

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.networkworld.com/news/2008/022108-microsoft-open-source.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.networkworld.com/news/2008/022108-microsoft-open-source.html</a>

all will be known just how Code-Based OS/2 Windows is really is. The funny this is according to IBM the OS/2 Codes cannot (yet) be Open-Sourced. So, until that time comes - read the subject line. ;-) !
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
It sounds to me like Microsoft haters dream to much...
Concerning Microsoft's decision and Microsoft haters' comments towards it... If I can borrow a quote from myself:

First they "guess" your end,
then they "guess" your end,
then they "guess" your end,
then you win. (Describing the stages of an idiotic theory of fantasy bankrupcy.)

Microsoft haters have undergone all of these stages (several times). They have tons of FUD getting cranked out every second aimed at Microsoft about how Windows supposedly sucks (yet it (still) dominates the market with over 90% market share). How they claim Linux to be "better" and "cheaper" and so on despite the clear market share and the studies that prove the exact opposite... Always the "end guessing" part (year over year)... There definitely was some "end guessing" at Internet Explorer (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/ie/default.mspx" target="_newWindow">http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/ie/default.mspx</a>) for example. Since Internet Explorer also (still) dominates the market with over 75% market share. Microsoft haters said Firefox would overcome Internet Explorer. Then Microsoft haters started saying no one is using their patents as Microsoft proved they were (with the usual "I-won't-tell-you-how-I-came-to-this-scientific-conclusion" argument)... And once the pact with Novell was done and they started being friendlier with open-source as Microsoft haters always said they should but wouldn't now they say it's a sign of weakness and "it sounds like Microsoft is in it's (they are probably American and write English worse than me, who don't have English has native language) Final Throes"... So HAHA you wish... I'm still not going to comentate on Vista's, though its sales is just what makes them angry... VIVA MICROSOFT!!!!
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Link Flag
Web Standards!
It's about time MS supports web standards fully. Web developers
have lost and continue to lose countless hours due to MS charting
their own course because of market share. They're losing some of
that market share as a result, but developers continue in
frustration.
Posted by edgedesign (290 comments )
Reply Link Flag
P.S.
Browse Happy and support non-MS browsers:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.apple.com/safari/" target="_newWindow">http://www.apple.com/safari/</a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.firefox.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.firefox.com</a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.opera.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.opera.com</a>
Posted by edgedesign (290 comments )
Link Flag
Ah the Microsoft Trojan horse maneuver.
When Microsoft is playing nice that means they are trying to woo someone so they can have their wicked way.

Who knows what they are after this time. Maybe to "inter-operate" themselves into another companies software secrets so they can copy them. Or maybe just to look innocent to anti-trust officials, or congress officials investigating Microsoft. Perhaps this is to look less evil to Yahoo's major stock holders to woo them into approving the merger.

Whatever it is we can be sure of one thing, its not to help the world, or consumers, but to help their bottom line.
Posted by bwvla (166 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hey "bwvla"!
"Who knows what they are after this time. Maybe to "inter-operate" themselves into another companies software secrets so they can copy them. Or maybe just to look innocent to anti-trust officials, or congress officials investigating Microsoft..." Are you not forgetting that there is an institution by the name of The International Organization for Standardization (ISO); and, the next review of the proposed Microsoft's OOXML Standards (ODF has already made the tape) according to reports is due for sometime next week. Hope you get the point.
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
trojan horse
Since Microsoft has mentioned that the disclosed standards apply only for non-commercial open source products and this is a verbal agreement, i doubt major projects like samba would jump in without thinking about the consequences. For example, a commercial firm that runs samba for file and print server that interoperates with a microsoft operating system that would use the disclosed standards become good targets for patent lawsuits at an opportunate time. The key word still is "non commercial". Not disclosing enough information about the protocols so that
competitors could create products that would
inter operate with your products could attract
anti trust lawsuits and this looks like a good
way to dodge it. But it also gives several future
options for Microsoft to sue linux software
like samba in future if these open standards
are implemented and a non commercial entity
starts using the software. So the disclosure
seems like a win-win for Microsoft.
Posted by penguinhfx (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft
WinterGreen Research agrees with the European commission statement that Microsoft has issued statements on this in the past, but has been slow to make the changes necessary to provide developers access to the APIs that support open systems.
Posted by analyst40 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
what patents?
First of all, open source licenses generally forbid the distribution of software that anybody has patent claims on. So, this is not particularly generous.

On the other hand, what kinds of patents is Microsoft supposed to have on, say, the office format or the Exchange protocol anyway? There is unlikely to be anything essential in there that's patentable, and Microsoft can't have any patents on those protocols or formats anyway because if they did, they would be public alreayd.
Posted by krosavcheg (262 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Say what?!!!
"Microsoft the Magnanimous"?
How about "Atilla the Hun, the soft-hearted".
Or, "Vlad the Impaler, the Misunderstood"?

Microsoft does NOTHING which does not profit Microsoft.

Ever seen video of a snake-charmer with his cobra? The cobra NEVER takes its eyes off the snake charmer, and vice-versa. This is a good metaphor for anyone or any authority dealing with Microsoft. Never, ever let your attention be diverted by what they say or do, or you're dead.
Keep switching to Linux, FireFox, and Thunderbird.
That's the only real protection against Microsoft's duplicity, and the only way Microsoft will be really kept honest (don't laugh: you started this off with the ultimate oxymoron, in the title).
Posted by tfosorcim (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Say what?!!!
"Microsoft does NOTHING which does not profit Microsoft"? Can you name a non-charitable company that does something with the intent of NOT profiting them? You are SUPPOSED to make profit in a non-charitable company. This is a good rule if you want to be successful. Never, ever give money away just to look nice. Keep begging people to switch to Linux, Firefox, Thunderbird, Mac, Google, iTunes, Venus. That's the only real laugh we unbiased people have when we check the market shares (laugh at your own pleasure: you are the ones who make yourselves sound so idiot with your arguments and anti-Microsoft opinions).
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft the magnanimous? Unfortunately to many, yes, definitely.
Now that Microsoft has done what Microsoft haters asked for for many years, it's time for them to come and comment on how this is really just a plan to enslave the world and eat little kids and on how this is the 347th step taking them to banrupcy.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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