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Microsoft Forms Interoperability Council

Microsoft Corp., which has been accused of overly guarding its market-dominating technology against integration by rivals, said Wednesday that it has formed a council of customers to identify areas to improve interoperability with its products.

The move is seen by at least one expert as driven by customer complaints and Microsoft's desire to play a bigger technology role in large enterprises.

The Interoperability Customer Executive Council is expected to meet twice a year at Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters. Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft, will host the meetings, which are expected to focus on issues such as connectivity, application integration and data exchange.

The council's founding members include government organizations and corporations. They are the Societe Generale, LexisNexis, Kohl's Department Stores, Denmark's Ministry of Finance, Spain's Generalitat de Catalunya and Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI), and the states of Wisconsin and Delaware.

Microsoft's legal troubles over interoperability stem from the monopoly it holds on the desktop with its Windows operating system. The U.S. Justice Department sued the software maker several years ago for abusing its monopoly, which led to a court ordering Microsoft to open up its technology to other vendors. The European Union is currently demanding that Microsoft open up its Windows server software protocols to rivals. Microsoft is appealing the ruling by the EU antitrust agency.

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