Microsoft announced Tuesday its decision to license all the Windows Server source code in order to meet the demands of European Commission Union regulators in a long-standing anti-trust dispute.
This top-secret code described by Microsoft's General Counsel Brad Smith as "the ultimate documentation of Windows Server technologies", will provide competitors the most precise and authoritative description possible of the Windows protocol technologies. With it, software developers will be entitled to view the Windows source code in order to better understand how to develop products that interoperate with Windows, but they won't be allowed to copy Microsoft's source code.
In reaction, the European Commission indicated Wednesday morning that it might not accept Microsoft's offer as it would "study" the announcement once it had the details and was "looking forward" to receiving a reply to the formal notice sent in December on the company's failure to comply with the ruling.
After eight years of conflict with European Commission, the company sought to put to rest the main technical issues in the bitter standoff, but lawyers for competitors immediately dismissed the move as a "public relations ploy to divert attention from the extremely strong case the commission has against Microsoft for failure to comply with the commission's decision," said lawyer Thomas Vinje, who has represented the US giant's rivals.
The statement goes on by saying that the Commission will determine whether Microsoft has fully and accurately complied with its directive. This evening's language leaves open the possibility that the EC could characterize, about three weeks from now, Microsoft's bold move as a face-saving stunt. What the Commission is looking for is the documentation for the source code, implying that source code does not necessarily document itself.
The underlying language at the heart of Windows may not be enough according to Mr. Vinje. He stated that Microsoft is in effect offering "millions of lines of code", which were "useless" to other programmers without a broader "roadmap" to interpret them, as the commission has demanded.