Microsoft goes open! (?)
Microsoft have released a press statement today announcing that they are implementing four principals accorss their high volumes products. These principals are -
(1) ensuring open connections;
(2) promoting data portability;
(3) enhancing support for industry standards;
(4) fostering more open engagement with customers and the industry, including open source communities.
So - what does that mean?
Primarily it would mean Microsoft would publish a lot more information about APIs to their products and protocols used within and between them, allowing developers to do even more with the products and integrate their own products/system more closely with Microsoft products.
It also means, or at least that is my understading, that Microsoft would now officially allow develpoers to use these patented protocols for non-commercial use or even for development of commercial code; distribution of commercial code that uses those protocols does require a license of course.
It seems that Microsoft, as part of this newly self-enforced commitment, are about to release a lot more information about their products, including, for example, how their are implementing variuos industry standards and when they have a variation or extension of the standard that would be made clear and public.
Some products, like Office for example, which already moved to a more open format of documents in it's latest version, will be opened further, by providing a new set of APIs that would allow third parties to control a lot more of the application's behaviour including, apparently, supporting other formats which would ultimately mean you could use word, for example, to author document in any format.
This is very exciting and it shows that Microsoft is listening to the public and is more than willing to engage better with the community (and it only took a few years of being chased down by the european courts :-)), but seriuosly - I have to admit that from my personal perspective Microsoft has been providing more than enough information for me to be able to do my work and advance my knowledge and expertise; through the MSDN web site, conferences, various partners programs, MVP etc I had more information that I could swallow.
I'm sure many do not share that feeling (and then there are those who just like to hate Microsoft), and I hope this very exciting move will help change a little bit of that mood.
On a conference I attended recently someone asked one of the Microsoft guys if they ever plan to slow down a bit with the amount of new stuff they release (products, frameworks, SDKs, documentation, standards) which leads to almost infinite time one needs to spend learning all of that; the answer, as you can imagine, was categorically no. but while I don't think anyone in the room epected it to be any different, I also don't think anyone anticipated such a big move on that front.