Microsoft Releases New "Open Specifications Promise" on 35 Web Services Specifications

From a post at consortiuminfo.org:
Microsoft has just posted the text of a new patent “promise not to assert ” at its Website, and pledges that it will honor that promise with respect to 35 listed Web Services standards. The promise is similar in most substantive respects to the covenant not to assert patents that it issued last year with respect to its Office 2003 XML Reference Schema, with two important improvements intended to make it more clearly compatible with open source licensing. Those changes are to clarify that the promise not to assert any relevant patents extends to everyone in the distribution chain of a product, from the original vendor through to the end user, and to clarify that the promise covers a partial as well as a full implementation of a standard.
The “promise not to assert” is basically an irrevocable promise by Microsoft that someone that implements one of the covered standards will not be sued for doing so. It's interesting (and I think encouraging) to see that this promise was updated to specifically include wording intended to make it more clearly compatible with open source. That's something we haven't often seen from Microsoft in the past. It should be noted that the “Microsoft Open Specification Promise” page includes testimonials from both Red Hat and Larry Rosen. I'd say this is another step in the relationship between Open Source and proprietary companies that I've been commenting on with increasing regularity. It's just a toe dip for Microsoft, but I'm sure they see the money that IBM and Oracle are bringing in based on Open Source and Open Standards and they don't want to be without a piece of the pie. Surely they are still figuring out internally how to balance that with the nature of their two cash cows and it will be something to watch as it unfolds moving forward. If this is a topic you are interested in, I'd recommend you read the full consortiuminfo analysis as it's quite in depth.
–jeremy
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