Microsoft opens up; loves open source (and Dylan prank)

It's IT Blogwatch: in which Microsoft pledges openness, love, and harmony. Not to mention pranking Bob Dylan...

Gregg Keizer reports:

Microsoft Corp. today made public more than 30,000 pages of documentation for Windows protocols and APIs ... one of several changes in how it deals with open-source developers and software rivals. Calling the four steps "interoperability principles," Microsoft promised to make it easier and cheaper for developers to create software that works smoothly with its highest-profile and most-current products ... It also said it would promote data portability, enhance its support of industry standards and work more closely with the open-source community. [more]

Preston Gralla applauds:

Why has Microsoft seen the light? I have a one-word answer: Google ... The company has finally recognized that it can't succeed as an island, no matter how big that island may be. Google's support of open standards have served Google well, and there's a sizable ecosystem of sites and developers working with Google. More important, it is becoming increasingly true that the Internet has become, in essence, an operating system ... In order to remain relevant, Microsoft needs to become open, and allow applications to be hooked more easily its products. [more]

Nate Anderson has the reaction from Europe:

The EU's response? Prove it... and we may drop an investigation ... the European Commission "took note" of today's Microsoft announcement but declared itself skeptical ... "the Commission notes that today's announcement follows at least four similar statements by Microsoft in the past" ... Microsoft has little credibility when it comes to standards, interoperability, and support for the open-source ecosystem. Even Microsoft's steps to improve its reputation are met with skepticism, in part because different voices from within the massive company sometimes appear to say different things. [more]

Adam Ostrow gets specific:

Here are the key, tangible actions Microsoft details in their announcement:

  • Ensuring open connections to Microsoft’s high-volume products
  • Documenting how Microsoft supports industry standards and extensions
  • Enhancing Office 2007 to provide greater flexibility of document formats
  • Launching the Open Source Interoperability Initiative
  • Expanding industry outreach and dialogue. [more]

John Paczkowski pokes fun:

This morning, the software giant announced changes to its technology and business practices ... which translates roughly as “appease European antitrust officials” ... Quite a move for a company whose leadership once likened Linux to “cancer” and derided open-source licensing models as “Pacman-like.” Though it’s not like we haven’t seen this all before. [more]

But davers232 pooh-poohs it:

[They] can only develop implimentations so long as they don't take them out of their bedrooms ... Doesn't this seem to be mutually contradictory: To use our APIs and protocols:

a) you don't need a license or royalty

b) you need to obtain a patent license

c) else you can only use it in a non-commercial environment

This is nowhere near what the commision wanted. [more]

Andy Updegrove waxes cynical:

I expect that there it is no coincidence that this announcement comes just two business days ... before the [ISO] Ballot Resolution Meeting convenes in Geneva next Monday. This will effectively give those participating in the discussions of Microsoft's OOXML document format no opportunity to fully understand what Microsoft has actually promised to do, while reaping the maximum public relations benefit. However, there will be greater time for the National Bodies to learn more during the one month voting period that will follow the BRM - providing that further details are rapidly made available. [more]

And mjmartin_uk yells, "It's a trap!":

"Companies that engage in commercial distribution of these protocol implementations will be able to obtain a patent license from Microsoft" ... So basically they'll be sending the hounds over to the Ubuntu camp, Red Hat and anyone else who doesn't want to pay their fees. Any developer of GPL products should steer well clear from any of their bait. [more]

And finally...

Buffer overflow:

Other Computerworld bloggers:

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You too can pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email:

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