Microsoft has cut the cost and eased restrictions for software makers who license certain Windows protocols to make their products work better with the operating system.
Microsoft revamped the royalty structure and revised licence terms for the Communications Protocol Licensing Programme, a programme that was put in place as part of Microsoft's antitrust settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ).
Royalty charges, previously based on unit shipments, are now calculated as a percentage of the licensee's revenue from products using Microsoft's technology. The percentage ranges from 1% to 5%. The royalty prepayment amount has also been halved to $50,000 (£310,00).
The licence has been expanded to include Windows 95 and Windows 98 in addition to Windows 2000 and Windows XP and future client operating systems. Other licence changes include timing of updates, other logistical aspects and licensees' rights to develop their own protocols.
As part of its landmark antitrust settlement in November 2001, Microsoft agreed to make its communications protocols available to third parties on "reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms".
Microsoft started licensing the protocols a year ago, but is now revising the licensing terms in response to comments from the DoJ and the IT industry.
The Windows communications protocols allow other software products to communicate better with Windows. Microsoft already has a handful of licensees, including EMC, Network Appliance and VeriSign.
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service