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03.26.08

Microsoft (Re)Defines “Interoperability” and “Standards”

Posted in DRM, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Protocol, Samsung, Standard at 4:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s way or the highway

We recently saw Microsoft redefining "cross-platform", among many other terms. Groklaw just has dug up this old document [PDF] which shows how Microsoft views and defines standards and interoperability. The document dates back to the patent deal with Samsung.

Q: What role do standards play in achieving interoperability?
A: While standards frequently play a role in either creating or enhancing interoperability, they are not the only way to deliver interoperability in the marketplace. Three other key ways include: designing products to offer technical interoperability out of the box with software and hardware from other vendors; directly collaborating with partners to deliver more integrated and interoperable solutions for customers; and sharing technology and related intellectual property to encourage interoperability and enable the creation of translation tools across systems.

[...]

Q: How can standardization be balanced with innovation?
A: While standards are frequently a robust and practical solution for solving interoperability, standardization should be treated as just one of several ways to build interoperability between products. In fact, solely relying upon standards can limit innovation by restricting further development in a given market segment or technology area.

[...]

Q: What are the benefits of market-driven standards and the drawbacks of government-imposed procurement preferences?
A: Voluntary, market-driven standards facilitate market access and growth that promotes global competition and innovation in these dynamic and emerging areas. Market-driven standards often result when people or organizations have the flexibility to collaborate voluntarily on the development and implementation of that standard. However, standards can also be used to impede market access, with governments imposing procurement-based preferences or outright regulations and effectively raising barriers to purchasing and free trade.

GNOME XMMSWatch the con-standards fragments of the text. This should not surprise you at all. Microsoft is keen on coining terms like “market-driven standards”, which is probably just a positive connotation added to de facto standards, passing liability and responsibility from lock-in-loving vendors to the “market” (think pro-consumer). It’s a PR-targeted illusion. It’s akin to describing DRM as a case of “Rights” or “Enablement” instead of “Restriction” and “Disablement”, which is exactly what DRM achieves (the latter of course). No wonder there is poor interest in Microsoft’s new interoperability forum. [mind our emphasis in red]

When Microsoft laid out its broad commitment to more openness last month, one of the concrete steps it said it would take was the opening of the Interoperability Forum to allow customers around the world to have an open dialogue on how Microsoft products could work better with those of other vendors. That forum is now online, albeit empty and unannounced.

Unsurprisingly, Novell found the same lack of interest in Microsoft's "interoperability". Indifference is all they seem to get.

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