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Microsoft Promises Not To Sue Over XML Specs

To encourage adoption of Web services by developers, including open source projects, Microsoft has announced a promise not to sue for use of its proprietary XML specifications.

The company posted its so-called Open Specification Promise on its Web site on Tuesday.

"Microsoft irrevocably promises not to assert any Microsoft Necessary Claims against you for making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or distributing any implementation to the extent it conforms to a Covered Specification," the posting states.

Of course, that is subject to a few conditions. Chief among them is that all bets are off if a developer decides to join in any patent infringement suit against "a Microsoft implementation of such Covered Specification, " the promise says.

Microsoft's pledge covers the use of any of 35 separate Web services specifications named on the Web site. They include WS-Addressing, WS-Discovery, WSDL (Web Service Description Language), WS-Federation, WS-Management, and WS-ReliableMessaging. It also covers several WS-Security specs, three for SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), and two for Web Single Sign-On.

While Microsoft has been saying all along that it has no plans to go after developers who use specifications that it has some patent ownership in, this is the first time it has outright promised not to sue.

An FAQ that accompanies the promise states Microsoft's logic in the matter: "It was a simple, clear way, after looking at many different licensing approaches, to reassure a broad audience of developers and customers that the specification(s) could be used for free, easily, now and forever. "

More on Microsoft's Open Specification Promise is available at the OSP Web site here.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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