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NetApp Scores Windows Protocols

Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) -- benefiting from the U.S. government's antitrust settlement with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) -- today announced it has licensed a suite of more than 100 Windows proprietary communications protocols from Microsoft.

Under the consent decree it signed with the U.S. Department of Justice and nine states in November 2002, Microsoft is required to disclose and license certain elements of its technical information.

Microsoft's Communications Protocol Program will license to third parties, on a royalty basis, more than 100 proprietary protocols that were not previously available, including Microsoft's implementation of the Common Internet File System (CIFS) protocol. The terms of the DOJ settlement mandates that Microsoft license the protocols in "a fair and unbiased manner" (see NetApp Licenses Microsoft Protocols).

Analysts say NetApp's five-year protocol-licensing deal will mainly reduce the time it takes to develop support for Windows clients, as well as improve interoperability with Microsoft software.

"It's one of the first real licensing deals Microsoft has done for CIFS to a NAS competitor," says Steve Duplessie, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc. "I'm sure NetApp's competitors are scrambling to find the area code for Redmond." [Ed. note: It's 425.]

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