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The Packet Rat'commentary

'OK, SOMEBODY check the temperature outside,' the Rat yelled from his cubicle.

'Apparently, Hell has frozen over. Or at least, Microsoft's Sim-Hell.'

In its ongoing efforts to become a Good Citizen in the world of interoperability ' and perhaps with some backroom haggling over those fines that the European Commission of the European Union whacked the company with ' Microsoft is, as they used to say back in the go-go days of dot-com-dom, taking Office 'open kimono.'

'Don't use that phrase, please,' wailed one of the Rat's minions. 'I'm trying to eat lunch, and the idea of Steve Ballmer in an open kimono is putting me off my ramen.'

The Redmondians are publishing the protocols for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 ' the means by which other Microsoft software communicates with servers ' as part of 14,000 pages of documentation it is making available for download.

Back in February, the company released 30,000 pages of documentation on Windows client and server protocols, with a promise not to sue anyone who used them in open-source products.

'I think the idea here is to fill up the hard drives of open-source developers with Microsoft documentation so they can't compile any more code,' the whiskered one smirked. 'Either that or they want to see if they can make something longer and more obscure than the Federal Acquisition Regulation.'

Microsoft execs were trotted out to bow to the god of Interoperability and extol the virtues of a rising tide that lifts all boats, et cetera and so forth.

The protocol glasnost is part of Microsoft's efforts to show European Union regulators that (a) they aren't really that bad a bunch of folks and (b) look ' no product tie-in! The EU antitrust folks thus far have remained unconvinced.

'This announcement does not relate to the question of whether or not Microsoft has been complying with EU antitrust rules in this area in the past,' a February EU statement said.

'Pay no attention to the violations behind the curtain,' Microsoft seems to be saying.

'There is, of course, a sort of evil ' I mean, enlightened capitalist logic behind this,' the cyber rodent cackled. 'They could try to sell Exchange 2007 as 'Thunderbird Ready' or 'works with Evolution on Linux clients.' Then maybe people might upgrade.'

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