Microsoft Establishes 12 Principles for Windows Development

WASHINGTON—Microsoft has announced 12 principles by which the company will guide its development of the Windows desktop platform, starting with Windows Vista and beyond.

At a New America Foundation Policy Luncheon at the National Press Club here, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s senior vice president and general counsel, outlined the principles and discussed lessons Microsoft has learned over the past 10 years based on antitrust battles, regulatory scrutiny and fierce competition in the operating system and software market in general.

Smith said the principles largely come from things Microsoft picked up in the consent decree the software giant signed in settling its landmark antitrust battle with the federal government, but that more recent developments led to the crafting of some of the other principles.

The 12 principles are based on three main areas: choice for computer manufacturers and customers, opportunities for developers, and interoperability for users, Smith said.

“These principles are 12 tenets to govern and guide the development of Microsoft Windows,” Smith said.

Microsoft adopted a set of philosophies that led to the crafting of the principles, he said.

One was the recognition that operating systems evolve over time and that the addition of new functionality to an operating system makes life easier for developers.

And, while the U.S. antitrust ruling recognizes that innovation in all forms is to be encouraged, it should not stifle competition, Smith said.

“We’ve seen over the last five years steady improvement to audio and video playback in Windows, but at the same time we’ve seen phenomenal success by others,” Smith said, noting that Apple with its iPod technology is an example of this.

Meanwhile, Smith said that beyond the new principles. “We’ve have nearly five years of experience under the U.S. consent decree, and the one thing we’ve learned the importance of is humility…”

Ted Halstead, president and chief executive of the New America Foundation, who also served as host of the event, said, “This is a real, historic turning point, not only for Microsoft, but for the industry as a whole.”

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