This evening, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced that, on the order of the European Union’s antitrust watchdogs, will now license many of its communication technologies to third parties, according to Redmond Developer. These technologies, some of which are available immediately, include several “protocols, XML schemas and application programming interfaces (APIs) include transport protocols for communications between Office Outlook 2007 and Exchange Server 2007.”
“[With the license,] other companies can implement the Outlook-Exchange Transport Protocol specification in their own products or use it to enhance their existing products,” company statements said. “The Microsoft Office Collaboration Server Licensing Program provides the documentation and associated intellectual property rights to enable server products, including those competitive with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, to take advantage of the interoperability features in the 2007 Office suite.”
The Outlook-Exchange Transport Protocol, for example, allows personal information management software to support such as e-mail, calendar, contacts and task functionality in Office Outlook 2007. Examples of this include shared calendars and scheduling capabilities. Although Microsoft is still adjusting the nature of the licensed version of this protocol until around June or so, it is currently available for licensing right now.
Also available for license on an immediate basis, according to the Redmond Developer report, are “protocols, Web services definitions, client configuration options, XML schema files and other technology for Office Collaboration Server, which brings SharePoint Server into the mix.”
Use of these protocols allows Office 2007 applications to “be configured to work with competing document management servers so they can publish Office 2007 information — such as Excel 2007 spreadsheets — to those servers instead of SharePoint Server,” the report continues. In addition, they “can also enable Outlook 2007 to work with those servers for collaboration functions.”
Microsoft has also announced that “it will make licenses available for the Live Communications Server 2005 Protocol Extensions… that will enable licensees to develop servers that can provide presence and instant messaging capabilities to Office Communicator 2005 users.” However, those licenses will not be free, at least not under the initial specification just recently annouced. Whether or not that will remain the case in a world where free and open source software solutions are becoming increasingly common, however, is anyone’s guess. However, it should be noted that, owing to the demands and requests of the EU in this particular case, whatever licensing structure the company must ber held to must be one that allows rivals to best compete on a more level playing field than that which existed under the Vole’s longstanding business solutions and operating systems monopolies.
“The licensing is part of the settlement with the EU to interoperate,” admitted Rob Enderle, principal analyst for market researcher Enderle Group, while also predicting that even if Microsoft officials were hoping the latest licensing steps will be enough to satisfy rivals and critics, that outcome is not in the cards.