BRUSSELS, Belgium — Jan. 25, 2006 – Today, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith announced Microsoft’s decision to license all the Windows Server source code for the technologies covered by the European Commission’s Decision of March 2004. The company is making this voluntary move in order to address categorically all of the issues raised by the Commission’s December 22, 2005 Statement of Objections. That document asserted that Microsoft’s prior technical documentation provided insufficient information to enable licensees to implement successfully certain Windows Server communications protocols.
“Today we are putting our most valuable intellectual property on the table so we can put technical compliance issues to rest and move forward with a serious discussion about the substance of this case,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “The Windows source code is the ultimate documentation of Windows Server technologies. With this step our goal is to resolve all questions about the sufficiency of our technical documentation.”
With today’s announcement, Microsoft is going far beyond the European Commission’s March 2004 decision and its legal obligations to provide companies with the technical specifications of its proprietary communications protocols. A reference license to the Windows Server source code will provide software developers the most precise and authoritative description possible of the Windows protocol technologies. With it, software developers will be entitled to view the Windows source code in order to better understand how to develop products that interoperate with Windows, but not to copy Microsoft’s source code.
“We have now come to the conclusion that the only way to be certain of satisfying the Commission’s demands is to go beyond the 2004 Decision and offer a license to the source code of the Windows server operating system,” said Smith. “While we are confident that we are presently in full compliance with the Decision we wish to dispel any notion that Microsoft’s technical documents are insufficient.”
For server software developers who take a license under this program, Microsoft previously had created more than twelve thousand pages of technical documentation covering specifications for the communications protocols covered by the 2004 Decision as well additional technology going beyond those protocols. In addition, Microsoft previously offered voluntarily to provide up to five hundred hours of free technical support from experienced Microsoft professionals who can answer any questions licensees might have. With today’s announcement Microsoft has supplemented these resources with a new license for all of the Windows Server source code that implements all of the communications protocols covered by the 2004 Decision.
Microsoft has a similar protocol licensing program that was established in the United States pursuant to a consent decree there, covering certain protocols in the Windows desktop operating system. More than 20 companies have taken licenses to Microsoft’s protocols under that program and many are shipping products incorporating such protocols. To continue to foster consistency between both licensing programs, Microsoft has decided to make available for the desktop protocols the same reference license for source code it is offering for server protocols, and the company will provide competition authorities in the United States with information so they can consider the matter.
The merits of the 2004 Decision are being reviewed by the European Court of First Instance. While Microsoft contests the merits of the 2004 Decision through that judicial process, today’s announcement underscores the company’s resolve to satisfy the Commission’s compliance demands. In addition, Microsoft will continue to move forward to prepare its response to the December Statement of Objections, which is now due on 15 February.
For more information on the licensing program, please visit the WSPP (Windows Server Protocol Program) at: http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/legal/eudecision/.
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