Reinventing the wheel
Documentation doesn't prevent reinventing the wheel, it might actually encourage it (unless the sheer volume dissuades developers).
Royalties charged by Microsoft on Windows APIs and protocols are the next hurdle the company must clear in its wooing of open source developers. Leading open source figures have questioned charges Microsoft makes on its protocols and APIs, with a call to clarify whether Windows server, client and application APIs and protocols …
"... access to Microsoft's protocols and APIs will help speed development, as developers don't need to re-invent the wheel ..."
That is fundamentally wrong - access to something done by Microsoft isn't in any way required to write good and innovative software. What access to these document WILL do is allow people to write software that will connect to Microsofts stuff with a bit less hassle than at present.
Unfortunately, because of the huge market share Microsoft has, third party products are forced to work with Microsoft products if they want a chance in the corporate arena - not because Microsoft products are neccessarily good or best in class, but simply because they are so ubiquitous.
As I've said before, Microsoft promising anything that does not actively support its monopoly and its illegal leveraging of that monopoly into different markets bears very careful evaluation.
As a de-facto monopoly, they should be providing those APIs for nothing. Otherwise, they get to continuously use their existing monopoly to control any other software maker who wants to make a living doing anything for the desktop.
I certainly hope the European courts continue to hammer at that wall, because the American courts have repeatedly shown just how corrupt they are when dealing with well-heeled corporations.
Individuals don't license the same way that corporations do. If you were a developer and you were purchasing a license for the codecs to be used in your software for re-licensing to your customers when your software is purchased/licensed, then it would cost you $1m or more (I bet MS got a deal for bulk licensing). As a consumer rather than a producer you would have a completely different type of license that would only allow you to make content or view content with the codecs, not give the codecs to other people, and it would be considerablly less maybe a few hundred or less for all of them.
I think it's fair to point out that whatever MS decides to publish, they've made it abundantly clear that only non-commercial use of the software is granted without royalties. The Samba organization just paid a nice fat fee to get the protocol info for servers, and sublicensing appears to be included.
Whether or not that same info can be used in the states without royalties is a bit unclear as well.
Doesn't it seem ironic that the world's largest software, with Psycho Steve Ballmer at the helm, has to use patents, cross-licensing, vague and confusing licensing fee schedules and other techniques to keep free software from out of the enterprise? I guess they're really afraid of shareholder lawsuits.
Having been in this "business" for while...
API documentation is quite different to protocol documentation, although it's easy to confuse the two (particularly as Windows is a big consumer of RPC).
Sometimes the APIs are a thin wrapper around the protocols. Other times, though, the protocols don't have any published APIs.
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