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Just because Microsoft has said it will comply immediately with a European Court judge’s order to follow specified antitrust remedies doesn’t mean life will be a bowl of cherries for Microsoft’s partners, developers and even its competitors.

Industry watchers said they will be watching exactly how Microsoft makes good on the court-ordered removal of Windows Media Player from its Windows desktop operating system, and its publishing of communications protocols designed to make Windows better communicate with competitors’ products.

One analyst opined that the communications-protocol remedy could impact the company more than the Windows Media Player one.

“It seems like the revelation of client-server communications protocols is of more immediate importance than the removal of the Media Player,” said Matt Rosoff, a lead analyst with Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash., market researcher. “That could pave the way for open-source competitors to create software that more effectively mimics the functions of a Windows Domain Controller.

“Although it (Microsoft) settled with Sun and Novell—the two companies who wanted that information most—there’s still a possible open source threat. Once that information’s out, it can’t be reeled back in,” Rosoff added.

Microsoft said Wednesday that it would make available to those interested in licensing not only the communications protocols specified under the existing Microsoft Communications Protocol Program (MCPP), but also heretofore unpublished Windows Server protocols.

But if Microsoft simply makes these new protocols available under the same licensing terms that it currently offers, many competitors will be unable and unwilling to license them, cautioned Jeremy Allison, a Samba developer.

“The protocols that were discussed in the court as being ‘too valuable to expose’ were the Active Directory (AD) replication protocols—allowing third-party directory servers, such as Novell eDirectory and OpenLDAP, to participate in the multi-master replication process,” Allison explained.

But if Microsoft is “allowed to set up something identical to the MCPP program in the US, the remedy will be completely ineffective, just as it is in the US,” Allison continued.

The other problem with Microsoft’s existing protocol-licensing program, which will likely be duplicated in the new European protocol one: “Free Software is explicitly excluded from the MCPP licensing terms,” Allison said.

On the Windows Media Player front, there are plenty of unanswered questions, as well.

Read the full story on Microsoft Watch: “Industry Watchers: Don’t Think Microsoft Is Down for the Count”