A legal agreement has been reached with Microsoft in which the Redmond company will make available protocol documentation to open-source proponents. This will allow open-sourced projects such as Samba to fully interoperate with the various Windows server projects.

Excerpt from Network World:

“We are getting the full protocol documentation for everything involved with creating a workgroup server,” said Jeremy Allison, lead software developer at Samba, in an e-mail describing the legal licensing arrangement with Microsoft. The Samba open-source project provides freely available code used for interoperability between Linux/Unix servers and Windows-based clients.

On how not having the documentation hinders development:

[Not having access to the documentation] delays our implementation and makes us less of an effective competitor, as we have to work out everything via network analysis.

The deal between Microsoft and the open-source community is historic, but it must be noted that this move comes as a direct result of legal pressure from the European Commission. If you recall, it brought an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft in March of 2004, and Microsoft lost the appeal just this past September.