Microsoft Takes Additional Steps in Implementing Interoperability Principles
June 30, 2008
Actions enhance opportunities for developers to work with Microsoft’s high-volume products.

REDMOND, Wash. — June 30, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today announced several new actions that deliver upon the commitments set in its Interoperability Principles to increase the openness of its products, drive greater interoperability, and provide increased opportunity and choice for developers, partners, customers and competitors.

Highlights of the actions announced today include: posting Version 1.0 releases of technical documentation for Microsoft protocols built into Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007; posting nearly 5,000 pages of new technical documentation for the Microsoft Office binary file formats for Word, Excel and PowerPoint (.doc, .xls, .xlsb and .ppt); and making significant strides in the company’s efforts to foster more open engagement with other members of the IT community.

“Today’s actions represent Microsoft’s continued fulfillment of the commitments it made in its Interoperability Principles,” said Craig Shank, general manager of Interoperability at Microsoft. “Microsoft’s cumulative posting of approximately 50,000 pages of technical documentation on MSDN provides consistent, open access for all developers, which enhances the ease and opportunities for working with Microsoft’s high-volume products. Moreover, our work with partners, competitors and customers to engage in the technical nuts-and-bolts of real-world interoperability provides great ongoing opportunities for collaboration to address the challenges of today’s diverse IT environment.”

Ensuring Open Connections

As part of its commitment to ensure open connections to its products, Microsoft has posted on MSDN (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc216514.aspx) Version 1.0 releases of technical documentation for Microsoft protocols built into Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. Microsoft posted preliminary versions of this protocol documentation in April of this year, solicited input from the community, and factored this input into the Version 1.0 releases posted today.

As a result of the documentation, developers working with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 protocols will have additional resources to develop products that work with Microsoft Office 2007 client applications. In addition, developers working with Exchange Server 2007 protocols will have additional resources to build applications that directly communicate and store information related to e-mail, calendar, contacts, voice mail and task tracking with either Exchange Server 2007 or Microsoft Office Outlook 2007. This documentation provides comprehensive information about how these Microsoft products interact with other Microsoft products, which will assist developers creating new products and improving existing solutions.

“The protocol documentation has been very straightforward and has really enabled our developers to get up to speed on what they are looking at and implement the solutions in the Unified Access Control products as quickly as possible,” said Rich Campagna, senior product manager, Service Layer Technologies, Juniper Networks Inc.

In addition to posting this documentation, Microsoft also published a list indicating which of the published protocols built into the following products are covered by Microsoft patents or patent applications: Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft Windows Vista (including the .NET Framework), and Microsoft Windows Server 2008. In addition, Microsoft published the reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing terms and low pricing available to those who choose to take a license to the patents covering the protocols in these products that are used to communicate with other Microsoft products. This information is easily accessible at http://www.microsoft.com/about/legal/intellectualproperty/protocols/default.mspx.

It is important to note that open source developers, whether commercial or non-commercial, will not need a patent license for the development of implementations of these protocols or for the non-commercial distribution of these implementations, according to Microsoft’s Patent Pledge for Open Source Developers.

Promoting Data Portability

Delivering on its interoperability principle of promoting data portability, the company posted on MSDN (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc216514.aspx) nearly 5,000 pages of new technical documentation for the Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint binary file formats (.doc, .xls, .xlsb and .ppt). Access to this technical documentation, in addition to documentation provided earlier this year, will make it easier for developers to enable applications to read and write files in these binary file formats, thus enhancing the ease of moving data from one application to another. This documentation is available to anyone on a royalty-free basis under Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise (OSP).

Fostering More Open Engagement

In addition, Microsoft made a number of strides in its effort to foster more open engagement with the IT community, in particular through its Document Interoperability Initiative, which kicked off earlier this year. Since then, Microsoft has hosted a series of regional roundtable events and labs around the world — in Seoul, South Korea; Beijing, China; and Munich, Germany — bringing together more than 30 partners and competitors to test interoperability between existing implementations of Open XML Format and the OpenDocument Format (ODF) on a variety of platforms and devices, including Mac OS X Leopard, iPhone, Palm OS, Symbian OS, Linux and Windows Mobile.

“Microsoft’s Document Interoperability Initiative event was a very productive, collaborative forum,” said John Addesso, senior project manager, DataViz Inc. “Working with colleagues in the industry to come up with real-world interoperability solutions was very gratifying and helped us in our product development efforts. We look forward to engaging in future opportunities.”

Based on input received through the DII and other events and forums, Microsoft is launching the following projects:

  1. Working with Beihang University to develop Uniform Office Format (UOF) translators for Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint so that users will have more options to open and save UOF documents in Microsoft Office 2007 and 2003; more information can be found at http://uof-translator.sourceforge.net.

  2. Designing a new translator to read from Open XML to HTML, which will provide the opportunity for independent software vendors(ISVs) to enable their customers to launch Open XML documents using lightweight browser-friendly applications; more information can be found at http://www.codeplex.com/OpenXMLViewer.

  3. Developing PowerTools PowerShell commands for Open XML to enable IT administrators to perform document management tasks; more information can be found at http://www.codeplex.com/PowerTools.

Continued Commitment to Expanding Interoperability

Today’s software users operate in an increasingly diverse IT environment that is rich with many products and services from many companies. Microsoft’s Interoperability Principles are part of the company’s broader effort to deliver real-world interoperability solutions to customers through product design, community participation, access to technologies, and engagement with standards bodies. The latest updates regarding Microsoft’s Interoperability efforts can be found at: http://www.microsoft.com/interop.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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