Microsoft publishes more protocol documentation

Microsoft publishes more protocol documentation

Summary: The software giant has posted online another 14,000 pages of protocol documentation for its programs, bringing the total so far to 44,000

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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Microsoft has made public over 14,000 pages of preliminary technical documentation on the protocols built into its Office 2007, Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 products.

Announced on Tuesday, the move brings the total amount of protocol documentation now held on the MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) to over 44,000 pages. Microsoft describes its interoperability principles as a set of processes to ensure open connection routes to its high-volume products are clearly defined.

By hosting this information, Microsoft says developers, partners, customers and competitors can freely access preliminary versions of the documentation to examine the "connection points" between specified Microsoft products.

The latest release of information follows a high-profile announcement by the company in February when it committed to publish "all" details of application-programming interfaces for its high-volume products, listing its software patents that cover interoperability, and promising not to sue non-commercial implementations of its products.

Commentators were quick to point out that it's unlikely Microsoft opened up its specifications and made its pledges out of the goodness of its heart. Antitrust legislation in US and Europe played a large part and, as the open-source movement and its free-software predecessor have matured over more than two decades, Microsoft has found it necessary to make accommodations.

However, the company has only gone so far, according to some open-source specialists. Commenting in February, Jeremy Allison, a founder of the open-source Samba project that lets Linux servers substitute for Windows file and print servers by emulating the required Microsoft communication protocols, said: "The promise not to sue is only for 'non-commercial' open source, which is a bit meaningless."

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According to Microsoft, the latest posting is relevant for all types of developers from independent software vendors to open-source specialists. The protocol documentation defines how these high-volume Microsoft products communicate with other products from the company itself as well as third-party software.

"We are very eager to receive feedback from members of the developer community as they access this documentation over the next weeks and months so we can use that feedback to improve our final documentation to be released in June," said Jean Paoli, general manager of interoperability and XML architecture at Microsoft.

The preliminary versions of this material form the first part of a three-phased approach Microsoft is taking to make the protocol information available. The second phase, which will run until June, will be the collection of input from the community as developers review the documentation and provide feedback. The third phase, which will occur by the end of June, will be the posting of the final versions of the documentation along with final patent-licensing terms.

As detailed in Microsoft's interoperability principles, all software developers will have access to this protocol documentation without having to sign a licence or pay a royalty fee. For those protocols that may be covered by a Microsoft patent, the company will make patent licences available at low royalty rates. However, open-source developers will not need a patent licence for the development of non-commercial implementations of these protocols.

CNET News.com's Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.

Topic: Tech Industry

Adrian Bridgwater

About Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater a freelance journalist specialising in cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects of software engineering and project management.

Adrian is a regular blogger with ZDNet.co.uk covering the application development landscape and the movers, shakers and start-ups that make the industry the vibrant place that it is.

His journalistic creed is to bring forward-thinking, impartial, technology editorial to a professional (and hobbyist) software audience around the world. His mission is to objectively inform, educate and challenge - and through this champion better coding capabilities and ultimately better software engineering.

Adrian has worked as a freelance technology journalist and public relations consultant for over fifteen years. His work has been published in various international publications including the Wall Street Journal, CNET.com, The Register, ComputerWeekly.com, BBC World Service magazines, Web Designer magazine, Silicon.com, the UAE’s Khaleej Times & ITP.net and SYS-CON’s Web Developer’s Journal. He has worked as technology editor for international travel & retail magazines and also produced annual technology industry review features for UK-based publishers ISC. Additionally, he has worked as a telecoms industry analyst for Business Monitor International.

In previous commercially focused roles, Adrian directed publicity work for clients including IBM, Microsoft, Compaq, Intel, Motorola, Computer Associates, Ascom, Infonet and RIM. Adrian has also conducted media training and consultancy programmes for companies including Sony-Ericsson, IBM, RIM and Kingston Technology.

He is also a published travel writer and has lived and worked abroad for 10 years in Tanzania, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Italy and the United States.

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2 comments
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  • Protocols are not "underlying code".

    That would be like describing a TV's operation manual as a "circuit diagram".

    No-one asked for "underlying code" from Microsoft, and Microsoft isn't providing any. Not here, anyway.
    Zogg
  • Story updated

    Hey Chris

    Thanks for flagging up that error in the old version of the story. W

    We have updated it now with an in-house piece (the previous version we took from Reuters) which is hopefully more accurate.
    Andrew Donoghue