Microsoft Corp is loosening the terms under which it licenses Windows communications protocols to ISVs and developers following criticism by US justice officials.
Protocols will be made available for free or fixed costs while paperwork signed for developers joining the Microsoft Communications Protocol Program (MCPP) will be streamlined.
Changes to MCPP come following concern expressed by officials that ISVs are still not signing up because of the program’s overly complex royalty arrangements and confusing contracts.
Microsoft has already changed MCPP twice during the last year, following earlier concern over non-disclosure agreements and pricing, and also extending MCPP to Windows 9x.
MCPP was mandated under the official antitrust settlement pact between Microsoft and the US Department of Justice and prosecuting states. The goal was to open Windows to greater interoperability with ISVs’ products and help stimulate competition in the middleware layer that talks to or runs on Windows.
However, since the program’s creation in August 2002, just 11 companies have taken licenses, according to Microsoft.
In a regular DoJ report into Microsoft’s compliance with the settlement, officials noted of the companies signed up, some had prior agreements with Microsoft to license the same, or similar, technology.
Others, including SCO Group and EMC Inc, signed licenses under the context of developing broader agreements with Microsoft. Also, Microsoft’s media technology has been licensed under previous programs.
To help resolve the problem, the DoJ asked Microsoft to shorten and simplify licenses, and extend licenses’ scope. These steps would improve the licensing program by decreasing barriers that now exist for some potential licensees, the report said.
Microsoft is now proposing changes it believes meet this set of criteria, but which don’t necessarily help provide greater simplicity.
A new royalty model sees a proxy/firewall licensed on a flat fee, while collaboration server, multiplayer games, print/fax server, virtual private network and web server are licensed on a flat, per unit fee. Other tasks will continue to be charged on a percentage revenue basis ranging from 1% to 5%.
Licensing terms, meanwhile, have been reduced by half said Microsoft, who has also eliminated the right to audit licensee’s own end users. Approximately 20 non-task specific protocols for general network connectivity will be posted on the MSDN developer program with an executable license and documentation.
This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire