Samba team gains tech docs from EU Microsoft antitrust suit

The Samba team will soon get the fruits of the EU antitrust suit against Microsoft. Samba is software which allows an operating system to communicate with Microsoft Windows shared folders and printers over a network. The network protocols Microsoft uses are secret and had to be determined by Samba programmers by listening on the wire to see what Microsoft’s proprietary software would do given a particular input. Microsoft had to be forced to produce the documentation for various network protocols they use. This protocol documentation allows Samba to fully interoperate with the Microsoft Windows workgroup server products so they can make free software that implements those protocols.

The Samba team will become a subcontractor of the newly-formed Protocol Freedom Information Foundation (PFIF) which will pay Microsoft €10,000 for the documentation and agree to keep certain aspects of the docs secret. The PFIF will allow other programmers access as well, this is not a deal exclusive to Samba programmers. This deal doesn’t include patent licenses for any patents covering anything described in these docs but Microsoft has to list their patents which read on the ideas in these docs.

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