Microsoft said on Thursday that it would make key technology elements of some of its software products widely available to boost interoperability of its software with that of competitors and customers.
To make connecting Microsoft products with third-party software products easier, Microsoft will publish on its Web site key software blueprints, known as application program interfaces, pertaining to its high-volume products used by other Microsoft products.
"These steps represent an important step and significant change in how we share information about our products and technologies," said Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer. "For the past 33 years, we have shared a lot of information with hundreds of thousands of partners around the world and helped build the industry, but today?s announcement represents a significant expansion toward even greater transparency. Our goal is to promote greater interoperability, opportunity and choice for customers and developers throughout the industry by making our products more open and by sharing even more information about our technologies."
Microsoft also pledged not to sue open-source developers for development or noncommercial distribution of those software blueprints.
In January, the European Commission launched new antitrust investigations into Microsoft to see whether the company broke competition rules to help its Web browser and its Office and Outlook products.
The interoperability principles and actions announced today are an important step forward for the company in its efforts to fulfill the responsibilities and obligations outlined in the September 2007 judgment of the European Court of First Instance (CFI).
"As we said immediately after the CFI decision last September, Microsoft is committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure we are in full compliance with European law," said Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel. "Through the initiatives we are announcing, we are taking responsibility for implementing the principles in the interoperability portion of the CFI decision across all of Microsoft?s high-volume products. We will take additional steps in the coming weeks to address the remaining portion of the CFI decision, and we are committed to providing full information to the European Commission so it can evaluate all of these steps."
Microsoft said the moves announced on Thursday apply to its following products: Microsoft Vista, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2007, Exchange Server 2007, and Office SharePoint Server 2007, as well as all future versions of the same products.