By Ryan Paul | Published: February 21, 2008 – 07:27PM CT
Cunningham outlines three areas where Microsoft could demonstrate the legitimacy of its willingness to commit to open standards. According to Cunningham, Microsoft should adopt full support for the OpenDocument Format, offer downstream patent grants that would enable Microsoft protocols to be supported in open source software applications, and level the playing field by expanding to its promise not to sue open source software developers to cover commercial open source developers:
“Instead of offering a patent license for its protocol information on the basis of licensing arrangements it knows are incompatible with the GPL—the world’s most widely used open source software license—Microsoft should extend its Open Specification Promise to all of the interoperability information that it is announcing today will be made available… There is no explanation for refusing to extend the Open Specification Promise to ‘high-volume’ products, other than a continued intention on Microsoft’s part to lock customers into its monopoly products, and lock out competitors through patent threats.”
Red Hat’s skepticism isn’t surprising, since Microsoft has previously refused to work on interoperability with Linux vendors that don’t enter into dubious intellectual property agreements. Ultimately, true interoperability best serves the end user when it is based on unencumbered standards. If Microsoft was really serious about open standards and interoperability, the company should commit to making its protocols accessible to all developers, commercial and noncommercial alike, without requiring patent licensing agreements.