WASHINGTON — July 19, 2006 — Recognizing the important role the Windows® operating system plays in the global information economy, Microsoft Corp. today announced a set of voluntary principles to help guide the future development of the Windows desktop platform worldwide, starting with Windows Vista™.
In a speech hosted by the New America Foundation at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said these principles will continue to apply after major parts of the U.S. antitrust ruling expire in November 2007.
“Our goal is to be principled and transparent as we develop new versions of Windows,” Smith said. “These voluntary principles are intended to provide the industry and consumers with the benefits of ongoing innovation, while creating and preserving robust opportunities for competition. The principles incorporate and go beyond the provisions of the U.S. antitrust ruling.”
The principles, which consist of 12 tenets, are divided into the following three general categories:
Choice for Computer Manufacturers and Customers. Microsoft is committed to designing Windows and licensing it on contractual terms so as to make it easy to install non-Microsoft® programs and to configure Windows-based PCs to use non-Microsoft programs instead of or in addition to Windows features.
Opportunity for Developers. Microsoft is committed to designing and licensing Windows (and all the parts of the Windows platform) on terms that create and preserve opportunities for applications developers and Web site creators to build innovative products on the Windows platform — including products that directly compete with Microsoft’s own products.
Interoperability for Users. Microsoft is committed to meeting customer interoperability needs and will do so in ways that enable customers to control their data and exchange information securely and reliably across diverse computer systems and applications.
Smith told the audience that the principles do not supplant the continued application of antitrust law or the important role of government agencies and the courts in applying those laws.
“Microsoft is committed both to full compliance with antitrust law and to an ongoing and constructive dialogue with governments and others in the industry — both in the United States and around the world,” he said.
In addition to the 12 tenets Microsoft announced today, Smith acknowledged that other issues remain that still must be addressed by regulators, both now and in the future.
“We’re not suggesting that the Windows Principles will address every question raised by regulators and competitors,” Smith said. “However, the fact that there are unanswered questions shouldn’t impede the adoption of a broad set of principles in those areas where there is clarity and consensus.”
Smith said he believes it is critical for Microsoft and regulators to engage in open and constructive dialogue with a goal of resolving issues during product development and before the release of new products.
“We have a responsibility to bring information about new technologies to regulators, so we can pursue an open and constructive dialogue before the launch of these new products,” he said. “Given the global nature of the information economy, we recognize the importance of providing this information on a global basis.”
To ensure that the 12 tenets announced today reflect technological, business or legal developments going forward, Smith said Microsoft intends to review its Windows Principles at least once every three years. To ensure transparency, any changes will be published on Microsoft’s Web site.
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