From Ars Technica
Judge: Microsoft documentation unfit for US consumption
By John Timmer | Published: September 25, 2008 – 07:50PM CT
Microsoft may have made a big push to settle many of the antitrust actions facing it around the globe, but those efforts have run up against a major stumbling block: the company’s inability to document the protocols need to interoperate with its own software. Documentation problems got Microsoft in hot water with the EU, and they’re now the only reason it continues to be under court supervision in the aftermath of its antitrust settlement. But, despite having interoperability become a corporate strategy, its documentation efforts came under fire in a court hearing earlier today.
In the wake of antitrust actions, documentation of Microsoft technologies has become a method of allaying the concerns of legal authorities in both the US and EU. By providing documentation of the APIs and protocols used by its products, Microsoft would not only allow third-party and open-source software to interact better with Windows and other software, but potentially enable them to write replacements, in whole or in part, for Microsoft products. This, in theory, would enable more software companies to compete on equal terms with Redmond.
Unfortunately, the company has consistently had trouble with producing complete and useful documentation. As noted above, the company struggled to satisfy EU authorities that it was complying with the agreement—that was 2006. By 2008, documentation was rearing its ugly head in the US court system. Microsoft’s consent decree with the federal and state attorneys general was set to expire, and most of the conditions were allowed to. But Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who is overseeing the consent decree, ruled that Microsoft still hadn’t sufficiently documented some protocols, despite those documents having been due in 2003. As a result, the consent decree will remain in place at least until November of 2009.