More on Sun & Microsoft

My last blog entry stirred up a lot of commentary and flamage (and some of the flamage was entertainingly wild: I love the Internet!). Reading through it, it's clear that there's still confusion about the meaning of our "collaboration" agreement with Microsoft.

While it is true that as a part of it we did sign up for Microsoft's Communications Protocol Program that is a part of the US v. Microsoft case, our full agreement both modifies and expands on it to give us a much more broad and useful agreement. It is important to understand that in no way does this lock Sun or Sun customers into interoperating with any Microsoft system on Microsoft's strict terms. Right now, most of our interoperability is achieved through reverse-engineering. We have the option, entirely at our discretion, to access Microsoft's specifications through the collaboration agreement. But before we do so, on a case-by-case basis, we will do an analysis of the business case for the entanglements that such access implies (principally confidentiality and royalties). Right now, the vast majority of the software that we (Sun) produce has free and open specifications and we provide the implementations of a large and growing fraction of it as open source. We are not going to slow down our involvement in the open source community. Right now we have launched no projects that will access any Microsoft specifications under the agreement - we simply have the option to, if we decide that the benefits outweigh the costs.

April 15, 2004