Here's a story that didn't get much play on the wire services. Microsoft on June 30 published format specifications for Office binary files as well as protocol documentation for Office 2007, Exchange Server 2007, Outlook 2007, Office SharePoint Server 2007 and SQL Server 2005. According to the company, the move is intended to permit "software developers, business partners and competitors [to] better interact with these Microsoft products or invent new solutions for customers."

Redmond's so-called open connections version 1.0 is posted as thousands of pages of new technical documentation, the binary file formats cover those for Word, Excel and PowerPoint (.doc, .xls, .xlsb and .ppt) files and resources to build products that interoperate with its own.

“Microsoft’s cumulative posting of approximately 50,000 pages of technical documentation on MSDN provides consistent, open access for all developers, which enhances the ease and opportunities for working with Microsoft’s high-volume products," said Craig Shank, general manager of Interoperability at Microsoft. It's all part of Microsoft's Protocol Programs.

The company also published a list of patented protocols that might be subject to licensing restrictions and fees. In its June 30 news release, Microsoft also stated thatopen source developers, "whether commercial or non-commercial, will not need a patent license for the development of implementations of these protocols or for the non-commercial distribution of these implementations, according to Microsoft’s Patent Pledge for Open Source Developers."