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Microsoft finally opens Windows code

Microsoft opened up the code for key components of Windows to meet the terms of the proposed antitrust settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and nine states.

The company made 289 application programming interfaces (APIs) available for free at the Microsoft Developer Network Web site

Microsoft announced earlier this month that an estimated 272 APIs - used by Microsoft middleware products Internet Explorer (IE), Media Player, Outlook Express, Microsoft Messenger and Microsoft Java Virtual Machine - would be released.

"We were required to make these API disclosures by the time Service Pack 1 [for Windows XP] ships," a spokesman said. "That will ship later this summer, so we are disclosing these APIs ahead of schedule."

Microsoft was confident that the disclosure of the 289 APIs put the company in "complete compliance" with the settlement agreement because it required disclosure of internal interfaces that are used in Windows by the five middleware products.

In its 5 August update on progress to implement portions of the settlement agreement, Microsoft said that it would withhold only one API, a Windows file protection API that allows replacement of critical Windows assistant programs. The company said that if it were disclosed it would risk exposing users to more viruses.

Earlier this month, Microsoft also announced the start of a licensing program for its internal communication protocols. The program allows third parties to create server software that is interoperable with or can communicate with Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP and future operating systems.

One protocol was withheld because of a potential security vulnerability, but its functions were taken over by another protocol made available for licensing.

Microsoft said the disclosure of the APIs and the communications protocols amounted to the release of very substantial intellectual property.

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