MS defends interoperability

Johannesburg, 10 Apr 2008

Microsoft`s new interoperability strategy is laying its intellectual property bare, but the company is hoping it will build respect within the development community.

In the wake of the ratification of its Office Open XML (OOXML) standard, the software giant has opened an interoperability forum. According to Paulo Ferreira, platform strategy manager at Microsoft SA, the forum, launched last week, is intended to foster open communication and problem-solving around the challenges in creating software that will interoperate.

"By making our technology open and visible, we are relinquishing control over something we are very protective of - our intellectual property. However, by doing this, we are committing to ensure that our platform will be respected by the developer community," he says.

The interoperability drive represents a significant change in strategy for the company, says Ferreira. "Developers are now on an equal footing with our own in-house developers, they have the same access to information that ours do."

He says the company wants to offer developers the opportunity to either create technology that will integrate well with its current products, or even to compete directly with it, by creating new products based on those application sets.

The ratification of OOXML has sparked worldwide criticism, specifically among the open source communities. "People must understand that Microsoft as a business is not competing with the developer community, but, rather, our products are competing with theirs. The same holds true for both open source and propriety products."

He says the interoperability drive stems from a need the company found within its customer base. "It`s a response to our customers` requirements. We understand that they are going to use the technology that is best for them, and often those technologies are used on top of a Microsoft platform. Essentially, the customer experience must be good whether they are using a product like MySQL, or Microsoft SQL Server."

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