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Microsoft to License More Intellectual Property

Microsoft is planning to announce Wednesday the details of its new "overarching policy" to license more of its intellectual property to others in the technology industry.

During a conference, the company's senior VP and general counsel, Brad Smith, is expected to announce expanded developments around access to previously unavailable Microsoft research and development, according to an advisory it issued Tuesday. Marshall Phelps, Microsoft's corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, intellectual property, is also expected to be discuss the program.

A source familiar with the company's plans told internetnews.com the announcement will go beyond Microsoft's antitrust settlement with the Justice Department.

The antitrust settlement, announced in November 2001, required that Microsoft provide software developers with access to certain APIs in order allow the creation of competing products that can utilize the integrated functions Microsoft includes in its own middleware. It also gives computer manufacturers and consumers the freedom to substitute competing middleware software on Microsoft's operating systems.

Microsoft's plans to announce a new policy for licensing its intellectual property also comes at a time when its desktop dominance is facing a legitimate threat from the open-source movement.

In recent months, distributions of the open-source Linux OS have been gaining momentum in enterprise deployments, posing a threat to Microsoft's Windows market position and experts are predicting that Linux could reach critical mass on the desktop.

Microsoft is also about to release this week more details of its royalty-free licensing for its Extensible Markup Language schemas in Office 2003. The program relates to Microsoft's new Office 2003 versions of Word, Excel and its InfoPath back-end, information-gathering programs. The suite uses schemas , or metadata to describe how information is stored when documents are saved as XML files.

The Microsoft Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas included in the royalty-free license include WordprocessingML (Microsoft Office Word 2003), SpreadsheetML (Microsoft Office Excel 2003) and FormTemplate XML schemas (Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003).