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Microsoft Licensing Key Protocols to Competitors

Microsoft quietly announced last week that it is making several key communications protocols used by its software available for license, so that third-parties, including competitors, can link into its newest enterprise products. Some are available immediately.

On the list of available protocols, XML schemas, and applications programming interfaces (API) are transport protocols for communications between Office Outlook 2007 and Exchange Server 2007, according to company statements.

“[With the license,] other companies can implement the Outlook-Exchange Transport Protocol specification in their own products or use it to enhance their existing products,” the statements said.

The so-called Outlook-Exchange Transport Protocol supports personal information management features such as e-mail, calendar, contacts, and task functionality in Office Outlook 2007, including shared calendars and scheduling capabilities. The protocol is available for licensing now, although Microsoft will continue to tinker with the specifications until June or so.

Also available for license immediately are protocols, Web service definitions, client configuration options, XML schema files, and other technology for Office Collaboration Server, which brings SharePoint Server into the mix.

“The Microsoft Office Collaboration Server Licensing Program provides the documentation and associated intellectual property rights to enable server products, including those competitive with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, to take advantage of the interoperability features in the 2007 Office suite,” the statements said.

Using those protocols, Office 2007 applications can be configured to work with competing document management servers so that they can publish Office 2007 information, such as Excel 2007 spreadsheets, to those servers instead of SharePoint Server. They can also enable Outlook 2007 to work with those servers for collaboration functions.

Microsoft also announced it will make licenses available for the Live Communications Server 2005 Protocol Extensions. That will enable licensees to develop servers that can provide presence and instant messaging capabilities to Office Communicator 2005 users.

Microsoft will begin that effort by providing early adopter licensees initial documentation in April, the statements said.

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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