Microsoft Offers Windows Source Code for Licensing
Posted on 26-Jan-2006 13:17.
Filed under: News
Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith has announced Microsoft’s decision to license all the Windows Server source code for the technologies covered by the European Commission’s Decision of March 2004.
The voluntary move addresses all of the issues raised by the Commission’s 22 December 2005 Statement of Objections, which asserted that Microsoft’s prior technical documentation provided insufficient information to enable licensees to implement successfully certain Windows Server communications protocols.
“Today we are putting our most valuable intellectual property on the table so we can put technical compliance issues to rest and move forward with a serious discussion about the substance of this case,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “The Windows source code is the ultimate documentation of Windows Server technologies. With this step our goal is to resolve all questions about the sufficiency of our technical documentation.”
Microsoft is going a step ahead of the European Commission’s March 2004 decision to provide companies with the technical specifications of its proprietary communications protocols. A reference license to the Windows Server source code will provide software developers a precise and authoritative description 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 not to copy Microsoft’s source code.
For server software developers who take a license under this program, Microsoft previously had created more than twelve thousand pages of technical documentation covering specifications for the communications protocols covered by the 2004 Decision as well additional technology going beyond those protocols.
In addition, Microsoft previously offered voluntarily to provide up to five hundred hours of free technical support from experienced Microsoft professionals who can answer any questions licensees might have. With this announcement Microsoft has supplemented these resources with a new license for all of the Windows Server source code that implements all of the communications protocols covered by the 2004 Decision.
Microsoft has a similar protocol licensing program that was established in the United States pursuant to a consent decree there, covering certain protocols in the Windows desktop operating system. More than 20 companies have taken licenses to Microsoft’s protocols under that program and many are shipping products incorporating such protocols.
To continue to foster consistency between both licensing programs, Microsoft has decided to make available for the desktop protocols the same reference license for source code it is offering for server protocols, and the company will provide competition authorities in the United States with information so they can consider the matter.