Microsoft opening APIs

In a dramatic move, Microsoft is opening up documentation for it APIs and communications protocols, the company announced Thursday.

Developers do not need a license or pay a royalty or other fee to access this information, the company said. Open access is intended to ensure that third-party developers can connect to Microsoft high-volume products just as other Microsoft products do.

Interoperability principles announced by Microsoft apply to Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2007, Exchange Server 2007 and OfficeSharePoint Server 2007. Future versions of these products also will be covered.

More than 30,000 pages of documentation for Windows client and server protocols previously available only under a trade secret license will be published on MSDN.

Microsoft also will indicate on its Web site which protocols are covered by Microsoft patents and license all of these patents under reasonable and non-discriminatory terms at low royalty rates, the company said.

Additionally, Microsoft is providing a covenant not to sue open source developers for development or non-commercial distribution of implementation of these protocols. Developers can use the documentation for free to develop products.

Also, Microsoft will design new APIs for Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications in Office 2007 to enable developers to plug in additional document formats and enable users to set these formats as their default for saving documents.

Microsoft also is launching an open source interoperability initiative to enable more interoperability between commercial and community-based open source technologies and Microsoft products.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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