Microsoft is planning to make available previously undisclosed Windows interfaces and protocols to developers and competitors, giving them new ways to achieve interoperability with the Windows client, part of a move to meet the US Department of Justice's antitrust
settlement terms.

Microsoft will now license approximately 110 proprietary protocols. These protocols will be licensed on a royalty basis, to create server software to interoperate or communicate with Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP and successor client operating systems.

Brad Smith, the company's senior vice president for law and corporate affairs said: "This put us in a different position from everybody else in the industry, because we are obligated to license some of our most valuable technology to our competitors."

The company is taking this action to comply with the antitrust settlement it reached in November with the Bush administration and half of the 18 states involved in the landmark case. But that settlement remains in limbo.

US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is still considering whether to accept that settlement - which was intended to resolve a court decision that Microsoft illegally maintained its Windows monopoly -- or impose a tougher set of restrictions sought by the nine states that have refused to settle.