Interoperability and Microsoft: Then and Now

13 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2009

See all articles by Mark Lange

Mark Lange

Microsoft Corporation - Microsoft EMEA

Date Written: October 28, 2009


The European Commission’s decision in the legal case involving Microsoft, as confirmed by the Court of First Instance in 2007, resulted in a clarification of the rules regarding what technical information must be shared with competitors in certain circumstances in order to enable interoperability between competing technology products. In addition to the legal case, the marketplace has evolved to a greater extent as companies determine what additional information should be shared with competitors, and how much competing vendors can appropriately work together.

Direct collaboration on technical interoperability issues between competitors in the software industry is the norm. Some collaborative efforts have been surprising, given the history and intensity of competition, such as an interoperability lab involving Sun Microsystems and Microsoft, or Microsoft’s work with Linux vendors or other open source software (OSS) communities, or its work with IBM on an OSS project for basic cloud computing interfaces. This type of interoperability work is not part of any legal process, but it is something that companies do when their customers expect more collaboration among vendors so various products connect together better. Such expectations have been rising in the past ten years, and the industry broadly has been improving their performance and activities in this area.

By its very nature, interoperability is not something that any company can address by itself, it has to work with others, and do so in a variety of ways: sharing technical information, licensing technology, participating in industry standards setting and standards maintenance activities, and building and testing products with a firm understanding of how customers will use those products in combination with the products of numerous other vendors. Times have changed, and competitors are working with Microsoft in all these ways in practical ways to achieve interoperability.

Keywords: Microsoft, interoperability

Suggested Citation

Lange, Mark, Interoperability and Microsoft: Then and Now (October 28, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Mark Lange (Contact Author)

Microsoft Corporation - Microsoft EMEA ( email )

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