Microsoft Takes Next Step In Delivering Interoperability


Today Microsoft made a substantive announcement about interoperability and I’d like to discuss the elements of the announcement on my blog.


 


The Announcement


 


As many of the readers of this blog know, I have been working on interop issue for MS over the past 2 years. I went back and dug around my old posts and would point you to May 10, 2006 to give some perspective on our thinking on interop. I point this out to emphasize how an announcement of increased interoperability efforts in February of 2008 is an evolution of long-standing work and in-line with a significant progression of work on this subject.


 


All of our work around interoperability must meet the needs of customers, partners, governments, and competitors. There are always so many facets to any step of this significance. In fact it may take months if not years of ongoing product improvement and development to see the full implications of the announcements today.


 


When I consider the reach of the principles announced today, it strikes me that:


 


1)      Microsoft recognizes the responsibilities it has regarding its high-volume products and is acting accordingly


2)      Competitors, partners, and anyone producing software (commercially or not) need to receive practical benefit from the principles


3)      Customers will have the opportunity to derive greater value out of their software investments through improved interoperability


 


Of course it is always about details, details, details. The basic rundown of the interoperability principles is as follows:


 


1)      Open Connections to Microsoft High-Volume Products


Anyone building software should be able to exchange data with a Microsoft high-volume product using the same mechanisms that any other Microsoft product would use.


2)      Data Portability


Once information is stored in a Microsoft product, that data will be made available for access so that it may be used in another vendor’s software.


3)      Support for Standards


For years, Microsoft has spoken about the fact that standards are one of many important ways to achieve interop – this principle establishes clear guidelines for how a given standard will be supported. Customer input will be critical in the decision of which standards to support.


4)      Open Engagement On Interoperability


Interoperability is not possible if only one party participates. The path forward for any interested party in interoperability is through ongoing, constructive dialog about the technologies, business relationships, legal agreements, and standards work that will ultimately enable real-world interoperability.


 


The myriad of details in the announcement can be found here.


 


There are many significant elements to this announcement that merit deeper discussion. Let’s just take the Standards piece as an example. In order to enhance broad compatibility, Microsoft will work closely with customers through executive councils and other mechanisms to hear what standards the customers would like to see implemented. Furthermore, we will be more proactive in thinking about what MS technologies should be standardized earlier in our processes. Additionally, transparency will be improved by our committing to document how we support the standards that do make it into a shipping product. Thus there will be documentation that describes not only what spec we are saying we adhere to, but also discuss if and how we may have done any extensions to the spec relative to interoperability. And finally, all of this will be posted to our website so that devs can get the info without signing a license or paying a royalty to see that info.


 


Fundamentally today’s announcement will improve how Microsoft’s products and technologies mesh into complex IT environments. Ultimately IT organizations will end up with greater choice of solutions because of this.


 


Other blogs worth checking out on this:



Gray Knowlton


Brian Jones


Bill Hilf

Comments (21)

  1. André says:

    Of course a committment like this looks very nice to me but so far it is pretty empty. Is it a marketing wrapper or will it lead to tangible changes?

  2. Sam Hiser says:

    Working hard for 2 years, Jason, and what — please tell me what — has changed?

    You’ve merely moved the goalposts to Sharepoint | Exchange and created a committee. Oh, and given away specs to old, useless formats when the specs were already available.

    (Well, *I* couldn’t get copies — but even your secretary knows I’m trying to put Microsoft out of business 😉

    I wish you luck next week at The Battle of Geneva (BRM). If you win there, you’ll be unimpeded to Browser World War II — where document interoperability is soon to be re-defined.

    Congratulations on the right decision to get back in the browser business, but I wish your browser guys would respect W3C standards with just one ounce of sincerity. You’re about to tell me that innovation is more important than interoperability …

    It’s a hollow day, all tolled. I’m not impressed.

  3. orlando says:

    stop with the "cheap" talking

    make significant steps , example:

    support ODF natively in Office 2007

    port Office to Linux, etc.

  4. Anon says:

    Very good!

    Some things you may want to look into and improve please:

    1. Why isn’t Windows Live/MSN and its APIs included in the "high volume products"? Aren’t Windows Live products and services used by millions and millions of people and what constitudes a "high volume product" exactly? Please:

    A) Document the Live Messenger and Live Hotmail protocols too by including Windows Live products and services in your "high volume products".

    B) Detail clearly how you are going to charge for the use of such protocols and online services.

    2. When Ballmer says that Linux violates 200 or so Microsoft patents is he refering to the patents that will now be published as part of the protocols? Or, are there more patents that he has in mind that he hasn’t talked about? Please make it clear which patents might be violated by Linux but are not covered by the new licenses which have just been announced and that companies can pay for. Not doing that will leave a burning question unanswered: "What is Ballmer refering to?"

    I think it is fair if Ballmer got the information about the number of patents that Linux violates from Microsoft engineers that he should make public such information and offer licenses for all violated patents so that companies can protect themselves. If he knows then he should have detailed information yes? Then why not publish it so as to have cretibility?

    3. Please also formulate a privacy policy which would cover all Microsoft offline and online products. In the same way that you will discuss interoperability through a forum, please add privacy to the list of the topics you will discuss with the community. This is because many Microsoft programs collect data on users actions through e.g. the Customer Experience Improvement Program and online services do the same. There appear to be inconsistent guidelines all around Microsoft on how to implement safe, EU law compliant, etc, data collection policies and user interfaces. For example, in Windows Media Player 11 the Customer Experience Improvement Program option is selected by default via a radio button together with a bunch of other options, in Internet Explorer it is hidden under the Help menu, etc. You need a more consistent and company-wide policy and user interfaces for getting the user’s permission for collecting private information. For example, Vista has a yet different way of asking for users’ consent to collect data and send them to Microsoft. So, please formulate, in the same way as you do with interoperability, a company-wide policy and standard user interfaces for privacy related issues and discuss the creation of a company-wide privacy policy for your offline and online products with your customers through the online forum.

    4. Does document interoperability mean that Office Outlook PSD format, Office Publisher files’ format and Access databases’ format will be documented so that competitors and programmers will be able to read these documents directly? The fuss has been only arround Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But what about the rest? After all, Onenote also produces documents, with notes; Publisher also creates documents, even though they are publications. Why should they not be documented these formats? If you are promising something it should be for all Office products.

    5. Although you might not be related to Dreamspark, the program that gives free software to students, please could you send them feedback and tell them to also add Windows Ce to the list of products they offer? On Channel8 they always have these nice presentations of hobbyists using Windows Ce but it is very difficult for students to get their hands on Windows Ce and so they do all their embeaded research on Linux.

    Thanks.

  5. This morning, Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, Bob Muglia and Brad Smith announced important changes to our

  6. This morning, Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, Bob Muglia and Brad Smith have announced important changes to

  7. This morning, Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, Bob Muglia and Brad Smith have announced important changes to

  8. New post at blogs.msdn.com

  9. Majora! Ieri s-au luat niște decizii importante pentru viitorul Microsoft și rolul său pe piața IT. Pe

  10. .NetBlogger says:

    Microsoft anunció la estratégia de Interoperabilidad mas importante de su historia, aunque Microsoft

  11. I have been reading on the Interop annoucement and its awesome. One of the things that really interested

  12. I have been reading on the Interop annoucement and its awesome. One of the things that really interested

  13. Here’s the news link . This is nice to see. Jason Matusow blogged this .

  14. Here's the news link . This is nice to see. Jason Matusow blogged this .

  15. Busy, busy, busy. So many things going on at once. I have been meaning to write about a few items all

  16. As last week came to a close, I blogged about a few examples where Microsoft was applying the Interoperability

  17. As last week came to a close, I blogged about a few examples where Microsoft was applying the Interoperability

  18. Just a quick note. MS is continuing to follow-through on the interop principles commitment made earlier

  19. Dating says:

    Today Microsoft made a substantive announcement about interoperability and I’d like to discuss the elements of the announcement on my blog. The Announcement As many of the readers of this blog know, I have been working on interop issue for MS over th