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Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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February 21, 2008 8:14 AM

Microsoft to make its biggest products more 'interoperable'

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The big Microsoft news referred to earlier this morning is a strategy shift toward more interoperability for many of the company's biggest products for businesses.

The company outlined four broad new principles for its products, including Windows Vista, the .NET Framework, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2007, Exchange Server 2007, and Office SharePoint Server 2007, and future versions.

The principles are:

-- Ensuring open connections.

-- Promoting data portability.

-- Enhancing support for industry standards.

-- Fostering more open engagement with customers and the industry, including open source communities.

Why make this change now? Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie cited demand from consumers and businesses for easier information sharing.

"Customers need all their vendors, including and especially Microsoft, to deliver software and services that are flexible enough such that any developer can use their open interfaces and data to effectively integrate applications or to compose entirely new solutions," Ozzie said in a press release this morning. "By increasing the openness of our products, we will provide developers additional opportunity to innovate and deliver value for customers."

Executives will discuss this announcement in further detail on a conference call set to begin in a few minutes. Check back later for updates.

Update, 8:40: While on hold for the start of the conference call, I checked out some early reaction. Mary Jo Foley, who has been covering Microsoft for as long as anyone and pays particular attention to this area, found the news a bit repetitive.

"Microsoft is promising -- for the umpteenth time -- that it will share all the protocols and programming interfaces needed to allow interoperability between its products and others," she writes.

Her guess on the timing: There's an important meeting next week at the International Organization for Standardization on whether the Microsoft Office Open XML (OOXML) format should become a standard. The company needs its format to become a standard, Foley reports. "Losing lucrative government contracts here and abroad that require 'open' standards would be no financial joke for the company.

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