In one of the more abrupt u-turns in recent corporate history, Microsoft announces changes to both development and business practices intended to "increase the openness of its products and drive greater interoperability, opportunity and choice for developers, partners, customers and competitors."
Details of the announcement:
* Microsoft will publish API specifications for:
** Windows Vista
** Windows Server 2008
** SQL Server 2008
** Office 2007
** Exchange Server 2007
** Office Sharepoint Server 2007 * Microsoft will release 30,000 pages of documentation about client and server protocols. No more secret licenses or partnership agreements.
** However, Microsoft will "license all of these patents [that cover specific protocols] on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, at low royalty rates."
* Microsoft will not sue developers who make open source versions of its protocols.
* Microsoft will support other document formats in Office 2007 and create new APIs for Word, Excel, and Powerpoint to encourage interoperability with new document formats.
* Microsoft plans to launch the Open Source Interoperability Initiative (OSII) to validate these ideals through testing and cooperative development.
Unfortunately, a ship the size of Microsoft doesn't turn on a dime. Therefore, how long will it be before any of this comes to fruition?
As exciting as this announcement seems on the surface, not everyone is buying in. Tim Bray (via Twitter) has expressed concerns about both the aforementioned "low royalty rates" and how Microsoft plans to distinguish between commercial and non-commercial entities.
What do our readers think? Is this just more smoke out of Redmond or is there a legitimate fire there?
Official information can be found at Microsoft Interoperability and special thanks go out to The Register for providing early coverage.
In other news, reports out of Hell indicate temperatures are dropping rapidly with freezing conditions expected.