Microsoft Opens Up To Open Standards

Live-Blogging the Microsoft Conference Call

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On hold and accutely aware of how annoying classical hold music interspersed with recorded voice is after the first couple of times. Mr. Broken Record tells me to have my passcode and conference leader’s name available…as far as I know, my conference leader is Steve Ballmer.  

Doug’s already in…feels like I’m being snubbed…music makes me envision prissy continental types in powdered wigs waltzing together…Scarlet Pimpernel’s knocking…someone asks for my passcode, I give it, spell my name and tell my publication…on hold again, music is louder, I dig the strings, though, very dramatic…pause, maybe this is it…nope, more music, a happier tune this time, very Palace Ball, prissier than before as though some how Frencher, nearly a grand entrance tune–Ballmer and Ozzie must be entering the room…

Call Begins, sorry if I miss stuff, but Doug Caverly is also on the line (update: Doug’s notes are in organized, reporting form) and transcripts will be available later:

Mark Murray: the interest in this announcement was so large it delayed the queue…we’re going to make a significant announcement regarding interoperability…THIS CALL IS NOT ABOUT YAHOO OR THE PROPOSED YAHOO ACQUISITION. WE WILL NOT BE ANSWERING ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT.

Steve Ballmer: broad changes to technology and practices…better opportunity for developers and partners…4 new interop. principles 1. open connections 2. data portability 3. enhancing MS support for industry standards 4. more open engagement with open source community

today we are announcing some of the concrete actions:

1. Open connections: Developers will not have to pay a fee or get a license for access; protocol documentation for Office 2007 will be available

2. Document portability: Word, Excel, PowerPoint;


4. Open Source interoperability,

I believe MS long term success depends on our ability to…provide customers with choice

Suffice it to say we are committted to living up to our legal responsibilities around the world

Ray Ozzie: when a new type of product or technology is produced, innovation tends to trump interoperability or data portability…Issues such as document preservation and portability has become a vital concern to customers…a significant shift in strategy for Microsoft…


1. further opening the connections to our high-volume products so that developers can better interact with them…external interfaces, published specs and APIs, so developers will have same access as Microsoft developers…open and level playing field…patent licenses will be made available with low royalty rates.

2. portability of data: designing and implementing ways to incorporate other document formats

3. support standards across all high-volume formats: innovation and interoperability are important…which industry standards our products will support? Innovating beyond the standard, we will make sure our protocols will interoperate with other standards

Bob Muglia Senior tool VP…:-)

Open specification promise, we’ve worked with Linux, etc., php apps on Windows Server, we’ve had a number of agreements with Novel and Linux…and we’ve some very tangible results…we’ve had a lot of technical interoperability, been working with JBoss, etc..close alliances to create interoperability between MS and open-source…working closely with Samba…working with OSI, approved two MS licenses…

We’re pleased to take these steps, yada yada, we look forward to working with the open source community…i want to emphasize that as we move forward with these principiles we will be aggressive in publishing…we look forward to several new initiatives launching after today…

we’re announcing a document interoperative initiative…

Turns over to Brad Smith

Intellectual property rights being made available today…the announcement covers communications protocols and intelectual rights…falls into 3 categories: provide access free of charge to MS trade secrets; will not need a trade secret license; will be able to access this information on the web; provide royalty-free use regarding patent rights; the principles address the patents with communications protocols in general, all of MS high-volume products…Open source developers will be able to use protocols without paying for a patent license…the interoperability announcement reflects a change in the landscape…a positive step in accordance with EU regulatory requirements, in line with the CSI decision… 


Softening your approach toward IP?

Smith: not announcing any change to broader trade secret or IP rights…carving out a portion of our patent rights in providing a covenent to OS distributors so that they don’t have to worry about addressing these particular patent rights…set of IP rights important for interoperability…compliance with 2004 decision of EU Commission…noncommercial developers, this covenant not to sue is applicable, but commercial developers need to get special agreements…Novel has a patent license, for example…

Patents will be readily available for a fee…will protect trade secrets, unless they’re a part of the interoperability agreement

The EU commission has posted a statement…this is expanded and new…we’re not here to characterize what the EU Commission said…This has been a continuing evolution, not just for Microsoft, but for the entire industry…there’s two things worth noting in this regard…we recognize it’s committing the company to actions that are consistent with our words…ray and bob have spent substantial time with our engineers…we’re not just issuing principles, we also put up 30,000 pages of documentation on the Web…up until today one needed to enter into a trade secret license and pay a fee to get it…now it’s available to anyone in the world…over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be posting many additional thousands of pages of documentation…starting in April and completed by June, beta testing starts…others will assess how we live up to these principles, as people test this proposition in the months to come they’ll come away with a high regard for the steps our engineers are taking.


Is a more open approach critical to Microsoft’s future? Why not sooner? To avoid antitrust in the future?

Ballmer: We’re doing it on our own…reflects the reality of our unique legal situation…new opportunities and risks in the new connected world…the world we grew up in was individual machines…in the more connected services-oriented world, one of the greatest value-adds will be what people do on the other end of the wire…at the same time we open up new opportunities to add new value…there are risks that come with it but on balance it is consistent with what we will be doing from a legal perspective…and good for shareholders.

Another: Interopability is important b/c the modern data center is a very heterogenius environment…have to consider what the customer enviroment is, what the deployment enviroment is

Standardization of Office open xml?

Continuing to pursue that…consistent with open standards…we will look to lead the standardization process and sometimes look to be on the receiving end…looking forward to a variety of participants in Open XML.

Microsoft Opens Up To Open Standards
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