...and charges for the pleasure...Microsoft claims to have met a number of the requirements laid down in the wake of its US antitrust case. The full settlement has not yet been approved but Microsoft today announced a number of steps it is taking to comply with the court's conditions. Throughout August the software giant will reach certain milestones in its settlement programme, which were negotiated last November. The company has introduced a programme which will see it open up relevant communications protocols to other companies. This means other vendors will be able to interface their software with Microsoft's. But it won't come for free. Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, said: "There's substantial value in these IP protocols and as a result we are licensing these and we're permitted to charge royalties." The company has not, however, released pricing details for these licence agreements. Smith also hit out at speculation by competitors which has suggested Microsoft would withhold certain protocols. Smith said: "We are disclosing 395 APIs (application program interfaces) and protocols and only keeping two to ourselves. These are a Windows file protection API and a remote procedure protocol." The company is also required to release a Service Pack for Windows XP. Although it has not yet said when this will be available, it has indicated it will be some time during "late summer". Smith concluded by saying: "We want to use the settlement to build a more constructive relationship with the government and industry."