Microsoft opens APIs and protocols to all

Bows to regulators with openness festival


In an apparent bid to calm still feisty regulators, Microsoft has agreed to publish application programming interfaces (APIs) for its major software products and provide free access to those interfaces. In addition, Microsoft will free up protocols around its client and server software and has vowed not to sue open source companies that create non-commercial versions of these protocols.

This shift, first revealed by The Register, represents a major change in Microsoft's conduct. The company's tight control over the key APIs that help others interact with Microsoft's software have been a subject of controversy for both US and European regulators. Now it would seem that Microsoft wants to assuage critics by embracing a more open software development model. (The Commission remains to be convinced - see our story here.)

Specifically, Microsoft revealed that it will publish the APIs for Windows Vista, Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2007, Exchange Server 2007 and Office SharePoint Server 2007 on its website. "Developers do not need to take a license or pay a royalty or other fee to access this information," the company said. "Open access to this documentation will ensure that third-party developers can connect to Microsoft’s high-volume products just as Microsoft’s other products do."

In addition, Microsoft will release some 30,000 pages of documentation surrounding Windows client and server protocols. In the past, partners and customers needed to acquire a trade secret license to this information through the Microsoft Work Group Server Protocol Program (WSPP) and the Microsoft Communication Protocol Program (MCPP). Similar protocol reveals will occur for Office 2007 and other "high-volume products" in the coming months.

Microsoft also plans to highlight which protocols are covered by its patents and will "license all of these patents on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, at low royalty rates."

Looking longer-term, Microsoft has pledged not to sue developers who craft open source versions of its protocols. This would seem to cover projects such as Samba.

And how does Samba co-lead Jeremy Allison feel about things?

"It's definitely a positive step," he told us via e-mail. "Doesn't mean any change for us (Samba) as we already had all these docs, and the promise not to sue is only for 'non-commercial' open source, which is a bit meaningless. But that's the same thing we had really (they're listing the patents etc.).

"At least everyone now gets access to the same info, which I'm very happy about.

"As for the rest, the devil is in the details. If they can follow through with this, the world will be a better place."

Had enough yet? Well, Microsoft hasn't.

On the we're so open it hurts front, Microsoft now plans to provide detailed documentation on how it supports industry standards and extensions. " To increase transparency and promote interoperability, when Microsoft supports a standard in a high-volume product, it will work with other major implementers of the standard toward achieving robust, consistent and interoperable implementations across a broad range of widely deployed products."

The company has also pledged - wait for it - to support other document formats in Office 2007. It's going to craft fresh APIs for Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications that will let developers plug in their own document formats and even set those formats as the default setting for saving files.

And with Redmond turning into Hippie Town, Microsoft has launched an Open Source Interoperability Initiative. The OSII will work to ensure interoperability between Microsoft and open source code through testing and cooperative development.

Microsoft's top executives will provide more details on these programs during a morning conference call. We'll bring you the hot and heavy action. There's more information on today's moves here

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Florida's content-moderation law kept on ice, likely unconstitutional, court says
    So cool you're into free speech because that includes taking down misinformation

    While the US Supreme Court considers an emergency petition to reinstate a preliminary injunction against Texas' social media law HB 20, the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday partially upheld a similar injunction against Florida's social media law, SB 7072.

    Both Florida and Texas last year passed laws that impose content moderation restrictions, editorial disclosure obligations, and user-data access requirements on large online social networks. The Republican governors of both states justified the laws by claiming that social media sites have been trying to censor conservative voices, an allegation that has not been supported by evidence.

    Multiple studies addressing this issue say right-wing folk aren't being censored. They have found that social media sites try to take down or block misinformation, which researchers say is more common from right-leaning sources.

    Continue reading
  • US-APAC trade deal leaves out Taiwan, military defense not ruled out
    All fun and games until the chip factories are in the crosshairs

    US President Joe Biden has heralded an Indo-Pacific trade deal signed by several nations that do not include Taiwan. At the same time, Biden warned China that America would help defend Taiwan from attack; it is home to a critical slice of the global chip industry, after all. 

    The agreement, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), is still in its infancy, with today's announcement enabling the United States and the other 12 participating countries to begin negotiating "rules of the road that ensure [US businesses] can compete in the Indo-Pacific," the White House said. 

    Along with America, other IPEF signatories are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Combined, the White House said, the 13 countries participating in the IPEF make up 40 percent of the global economy. 

    Continue reading
  • 381,000-plus Kubernetes API servers 'exposed to internet'
    Firewall isn't a made-up word from the Hackers movie, people

    A large number of servers running the Kubernetes API have been left exposed to the internet, which is not great: they're potentially vulnerable to abuse.

    Nonprofit security organization The Shadowserver Foundation recently scanned 454,729 systems hosting the popular open-source platform for managing and orchestrating containers, finding that more than 381,645 – or about 84 percent – are accessible via the internet to varying degrees thus providing a cracked door into a corporate network.

    "While this does not mean that these instances are fully open or vulnerable to an attack, it is likely that this level of access was not intended and these instances are an unnecessarily exposed attack surface," Shadowserver's team stressed in a write-up. "They also allow for information leakage on version and build."

    Continue reading
  • A peek into Gigabyte's GPU Arm for AI, HPC shops
    High-performance platform choices are going beyond the ubiquitous x86 standard

    Arm-based servers continue to gain momentum with Gigabyte Technology introducing a system based on Ampere's Altra processors paired with Nvidia A100 GPUs, aimed at demanding workloads such as AI training and high-performance compute (HPC) applications.

    The G492-PD0 runs either an Ampere Altra or Altra Max processor, the latter delivering 128 64-bit cores that are compatible with the Armv8.2 architecture.

    It supports 16 DDR4 DIMM slots, which would be enough space for up to 4TB of memory if all slots were filled with 256GB memory modules. The chassis also has space for no fewer than eight Nvidia A100 GPUs, which would make for a costly but very powerful system for those workloads that benefit from GPU acceleration.

    Continue reading
  • GitLab version 15 goes big on visibility and observability
    GitOps fans can take a spin on the free tier for pull-based deployment

    One-stop DevOps shop GitLab has announced version 15 of its platform, hot on the heels of pull-based GitOps turning up on the platform's free tier.

    Version 15.0 marks the arrival of GitLab's next major iteration and attention this time around has turned to visibility and observability – hardly surprising considering the acquisition of OpsTrace as 2021 drew to a close, as well as workflow automation, security and compliance.

    GitLab puts out monthly releases –  hitting 15.1 on June 22 –  and we spoke to the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, about what will be added to version 15 as time goes by. During a chat with the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, The Register was told that this was more where dollars were being invested into the product.

    Continue reading
  • To multicloud, or not: Former PayPal head of engineering weighs in
    Not everyone needs it, but those who do need to consider 3 things, says Asim Razzaq

    The push is on to get every enterprise thinking they're missing out on the next big thing if they don't adopt a multicloud strategy.

    That shove in the multicloud direction appears to be working. More than 75 percent of businesses are now using multiple cloud providers, according to Gartner. That includes some big companies, like Boeing, which recently chose to spread its bets across AWS, Google Cloud and Azure as it continues to eliminate old legacy systems. 

    There are plenty of reasons to choose to go with multiple cloud providers, but Asim Razzaq, CEO and founder at cloud cost management company Yotascale, told The Register that choosing whether or not to invest in a multicloud architecture all comes down to three things: How many different compute needs a business has, budget, and the need for redundancy. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022