Claiming that it may have patents necessarily infringed by implementations reading or writing files conforming to Office 2003 XML Schemas, Microsoft has published the terms of a license allowing third parties to create and distribute "Licensed Implementations" that support the XML Reference Schemas. A "Licensed Implementation" in this context refers to specific portions of a software product that solely read and write files that are fully compliant with the specifications for the Office Schemas. The Microsoft announcement of royalty-free licensing follows a period of "fruitful discussions with the Danish Government" and the publication of a 91-page report on "Open-Source Software in E-Government" from the Danish Board of Technology. XML Schemas and documentation for WordprocessingML, the XML file format for Microsoft Office Word 2003, are now available for download. Additional Microsoft Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas to be delivered in December 2003 include SpreadsheetML (Microsoft Office Excel 2003) and FormTemplate XML schemas (Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003). The Microsoft schemas define document structures used for presentation and layout of XML data, describing how information is stored when Microsoft Office documents are saved as XML.
The download link for Microsoft Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas [2003-11-18] is provided from the Schemas Licensing page:
Microsoft Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas. File Name: 'O2003XMLREF.exe'. Download Size: 2015 KB. Date Published: 11/16/2003. Version: 2003. System Requirements - "Supported Operating Systems: Windows 2000 Service Pack 3, Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, Windows XP, Windows XP Media Center Edition [Windows XP or later]." Overview: "This download contains the Microsoft Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas and related documentation. The current download includes the schemas and documentation for WordprocessingML, the XML file format for Microsoft Office Word 2003. This download will be updated December 5th, 2003 to also contain schemas and documentation for SpreadsheetML (Microsoft Office Excel 2003) and FormTemplate XML schemas (Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003)..."
From the Reference Schema Patent License
The Office 2003 XML Reference Schema Patent License [2003-11-18] "is intended to expand upon the rights that Microsoft grants to certain Microsoft Office 2003 XML schemas... The technical specifications for the schemas include rights under copyright to make reproductions and to display and distribute those reproductions, subject to certain terms and conditions. The purpose of this document is to provide a patent license to individuals and organizations interested in implementing software programs that can read and write files that conform to such specifications..."
[Patent License excerpts:] "Microsoft may have patents and/or patent applications that are necessary for you to license in order to make, sell, or distribute software programs that read or write files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas..."
"Except as provided below, Microsoft hereby grants you a royalty-free license under Microsoft's Necessary Claims to make, use, sell, offer to sell, import, and otherwise distribute Licensed Implementations solely for the purpose of reading and writing files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas. A 'Licensed Implementation' means only those specific portions of a software product that read and writes files that are fully compliant with the specifications for the Office Schemas. The term 'Necessary Claims' means claims of a patent or patent application that are owned or controlled by Microsoft and that are necessarily infringed by reading or writing files pursuant to the requirements of the Office Schemas. A claim is necessarily infringed only when it is not possible to avoid infringing when conforming to the specification because there is no technically reasonable non-infringing alternative for reading or writing such files. Notwithstanding the foregoing, 'Necessary Claims' do not include any claims: (i) that would require a payment of royalties by Microsoft to unaffiliated third parties; (ii) covering any enabling technologies that may be necessary to make or use any product incorporating a Licensed Implementation (e.g., word processing, spreadsheet or presentation features or functionality, programming interfaces, protocols), or (iii) covering the reading or writing of files generally or covering the reading or writing of files other than those complying with the requirements of the specifications for the Office Schemas..."
"If you distribute, license or sell a Licensed Implementation, this license is conditioned upon you requiring that the following notice be prominently displayed in all copies and derivative works of your source code and in copies of the documentation and licenses associated with your Licensed Implementation [...]"
"You are not licensed to sublicense or transfer your rights..."
"Microsoft reserves the right to terminate this license grant if you sue Microsoft or any of Microsoft's affiliates for patent infringement over claims relating to reading or writing of files that comply with the Office Schemas..."
[See the complete text of the license for context and other details.]
From the Microsoft Announcement
"Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of a royalty-free licensing program for its Microsoft Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas and accompanying documentation. The Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas enable organizations of all sizes to utilize industry-standard Extensible Markup Language (XML) technology in managing spreadsheet, word processing and form documents. Microsoft's new Office 2003 versions of Word, Excel and the InfoPath information-gathering program utilize schemas that describe how information is stored when documents are saved as XML. By licensing the schemas royalty-free, Microsoft builds on its ongoing commitment to promote the development of XML as the next-generation technology for integrating applications, services and data sources.
As information exchange and integration have increased in critical importance, customers, partners, governments and the IT industry have asked Microsoft to deliver solutions that improve data interoperability and exchange. To help address these issues, Microsoft is delivering the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas and enabling software companies to build products that can smoothly interoperate with Microsoft Office 2003. Licensees will also benefit from more readily available data identification within documents, ease of report generation and document assembly from existing content, and extraction of existing data for automated processing...
As a continuation of Microsoft's XML Web Services Scenarios strategy announced at Forum 2000, this license builds on the company's history of developing, supporting and playing a key role in promoting XML standards in the W3C, ECMA, OASIS and other standards organizations. To ensure broad availability and access, Microsoft is offering the royalty-free license using XML Schema Definitions (XSDs), the cross-industry standard developed by the W3C. The license provides access to the schemas and full documentation to interested parties and is designed for ease of use and adoption. The Microsoft Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas include WordprocessingML (Microsoft Office Word 2003), SpreadsheetML (Microsoft Office Excel 2003) and FormTemplate XML schemas (Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003).
The initiative came about after fruitful discussions with the Danish Government. One of the most important IT issues for government customers is managing, archiving, accessing and interchanging documents. The Danish government is already taking advantage of the open and royalty-free license for the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas. The government's ambitious InfoStructure Base project seeks to encourage enhanced exchange of information across the Danish public sector by creating a repository of XML schemas. With an open and royalty-free license of the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas, the Danish government will better realize its objective of promoting data exchange and interoperability..."
- Announcement: "Microsoft Announces Availability of Open and Royalty-Free License for Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas. Offering Brings New Level of Transparency, Interoperability, Document Portability, and Ease of Communication."
- Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas Licensing
- Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas Overview
- Office 2003 XML Reference Schema Patent License. This legal agreement specifies the rights and limitations of implementing the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas. Description: "There is a separate patent license available to parties interested in implementing software programs that can read and write files that conform to the Specification. [The] patent license is available at this location."
- Schemas legal notice. Description: "Permission to copy, display and distribute the contents of this document (the 'Specification'), in any medium for any purpose without fee or royalty is hereby granted, provided that you include the following notice on ALL copies of the Specification, or portions thereof, that you make: 'Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Permission to copy, display and distribute this document is available at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/odcXMLRef/html/odcXMLRefLegalNotice.asp?frame=true."
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). "Read answers to some common questions about this licensing program."
- XML in Office
- WordprocessingML schemas. Microsoft schemas in the Danish Infostructurebase
- "Overview of WordprocessingML." Microsoft Corporation. November 2003. "This document describes the elements in the WordprocessingML Schema that are important to document developers and to application developers whose programs will read and write WordprocessingML documents."
- Case Study: An XML Project by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation
- "Danish Board of Technology Report Recommends Open Source Software for E-Government." News story 2003-10-27. The Danish Board of Technology published the results of a detailed investivation into the usability of open-source software in public administration, including the economic perspectives in a switch to open-source software. The 91-page report Open-Source Software in E-Government urges creation of a strategy for the introduction of an open standard for the exchange of word-processed documents, because at present there is no genuine competition.
- The Danish Software Strategy. Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. 20-June-2003. 4 pages. "Choosing software is a strategic decision for the individual institution. At the same time there is a growing need for software solutions in the public sector to be interoperable. Open standards are a prerequisite for freedom of choice between suppliers and for the interoperability between the different IT systems of the public administration..."[cache]
- "Denmark Urged to Support Open Source." By Matthew Broersma. In CNET News.com (October 27, 2003).
- "Microsoft's Defense Winds Down in Europe." By W. David Gardner. In TechWeb News (November 13, 2003).
- Press and Commentary:
- "Microsoft Hands Over Office 2003 XML Schemas Royalty-Free to Denmark, World. Interoperability Will Help Antitrust Woes with European Commission." By Paula Rooney. In CRN (November 17, 2003). In a move designed to please the European Commission and governments globally, Microsoft announced on Monday that it would make its Office 2003 XML reference schemas available on a royalty-free basis beginning in early December. The decision, which follows Microsoft's discussions with the Danish government and three days of antitrust hearings last week, will give Linux, Unix and Windows developers access to the word processing, spreadsheet and form template XML schemas for several Office 2003 applications including Word 2003, Excel 2003 and InfoPath 2003..."
- "FSF Eases Microsoft Schema Patent Fears." By Andrew Orlowski. In The Register (November 18, 2003). "Whether an XML schema can be a patentable invention is an interesting question, but only fairly recently the Microsoft chairman was attracted the idea that he not only could, but should pursue the option. So the release of the first of Microsoft's XML schemas for Office 2003 -- files that describe the format for office documents saved as XML -- caused some anxiety in the community yesterday. Microsoft issued the schemas under a royalty-free license that had some wondering if they could work with GPL software..."
- "Microsoft Offers Developers Office XML Schemas. Move Enables Trading of Data With Other Programs." By Stacy Cowley. In InfoWorld (November 17, 2003). "Microsoft said Monday it will license for free its Microsoft Office 2003 XML schemas, a move that will help outside developers enable other programs to trade data with Microsoft's Office applications... The free licensing arrangement came about after discussions with the Danish government, according to Microsoft... Objections are not completely settled by the free licensing program: Since Microsoft, rather than an independent standards body, oversees its Office XML schema, the company could in future releases change the schema, breaking third-party implementations..."
- "Microsoft Opens the Office to Developers." By Jay Wrolstad. From NewsFactor Network (November 18, 2003). "Charges of antitrust activity and predatory practices, both in the U.S. and abroad, have put Microsoft on the defensive. It was telling that the open-licensing program was launched following what the company called 'fruitful discussions' with the Danish government. Officials there are among the first to obtain a license for the schemas. 'The word 'proprietary' is anathema now,' said Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio. 'Open source is gaining ground and Microsoft is responding to market demands; it cannot exist as a monopoly'..."
- "Microsoft Opens XML Schemas for Office 2003." By Jay Lyman. From EcommerceTimes.com (November 17, 2003). "Hoping to shift industry focus to the company's new 'kindler, gentler' business approach, Microsoft has announced the availability of royalty-free licensing of its Office 2003 XML reference schemas and documentation. Long resented for its closed, proprietary software and facing increased competition from Linux and other open-source alternatives, Microsoft is promoting integration of its Office 2003 software by offering the schemas of the latest Word and Excel applications as well as a new information-gathering tool called InfoPath.."
- "Thoughts on the Office XML Reference Schemas." By Mike Gunderloy. In Application Development Trends (November 20, 2003). "The Danish government is charting a middle course between using proprietary and open source software, emphasizing XML and other open standards rather than political correctness for the software itself... What the new Microsoft Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas download adds to the picture is documentation... [But]there are two potentially troubling things in the legalese that comes with the schemas..."
- "Microsoft Word Document ML Schemas Published." Commentary on Slashdot. Created November 17, 2003.
- "Word 2003 schemas available." By Len Bullard. Posting to XML-DEV 2003-11-17. "...The patents they vaguely refer to may or may not exist. They are using the license to FUD [spread fear. uncertainty, and doubt in] the market because they know the schemas will get into the public anyway so they are pre-empting. OpenOffice scares them. That's good. It should. When MS indemnifies as HP and SUN have, I'll take their licensing more seriously. Otherwise, take exception to it when you contract with them and let them deal with changing it or losing the sale..." See several XML-DEV list postings on the thread Word 2003 schemas available.
- "XML Takes Over Office 2003." By Peter Abrahams. From IT-Analysis.com (November 19, 2003). "Using the XML schemas, it becomes possible to integrate Office documents into business processes in a way that was not really possible before, without a lot of specialised programming... The license precludes the modification or extension of the schemas... It would appear that Microsoft will not be offering these schemas to the standards bodies and it is probable that the standards bodies would not be particularly interested in picking them up if they were offered..." [i.e., the Schemas are designed for import/export to and from Office products, but are not designed for general-purpose interchange]
- "Microsoft Office 11 and InfoPath [XDocs]" - Main reference page.
- See also: "OpenOffice.org XML File Format" - Main reference page.
- "XML File Formats for Office Documents" - Main reference page.