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Microsoft Changes Windows Protocol Licensing

Microsoft Corp., under pressure from federal antitrust regulators, said Friday it is changing the licensing program used by developers to gain access to Windows protocols.

The revamped Communications Protocol Program, posted on the company's web site, will include making about 20 protocols available without charge and others used to perform particular tasks available for a fixed fee or fixed fee per unit.

In addition, the Redmond, Wash., company changed the evaluation portion of the program, providing prospective licensees with samples of the technical documentation with no confidentiality restrictions.

Microsoft established the program as part of the 2002 agreement in settling the antitrust case with the Justice Department and a number of state Attorneys General. The program is meant to lessen Microsoft's advantage over third-party developers in building software for Windows.

Last week, the Justice Department in a federal court filing complained that the program wasn't quite meeting the requirements of the settlement.