Microsoft-AgreeYa Licensing Pact To Boost Mobile Interoperability

Microsoft has inked a protocol licensing agreement with mobile solutions provider AgreeYa Mobility that will help Microsoft roll out an enterprise product that enables mobile devices to establish connections with Microsoft software and services.

According to an announcement from Microsoft on Tuesday, the licensed protocols will enable interoperability with Microsoft's "Remote Desktop Services, Windows Azure, Active Directory [in Windows] and SharePoint." Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Folsom, Calif.-based AgreeYa plans to use Microsoft's licensed protocol technologies to create solutions for mobile platforms, such as Apple's iOS, Research In Motion and Hewlett-Packard's webOS, according to the announcement. Microsoft's Windows Phone mobile platform wasn't mentioned, and details on what those AgreeYa solutions might be were not described.

AgreeYa may face a short product lifecycle with webOS, which was acquired by HP when it bought Palm in April of last year. Meg Whitman, HP's recently appointed CEO, recently suggested that webOS's future as a platform will be decided in a couple of weeks.

RIM itself has shown a need to accommodate multiple mobile technologies with its BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, which is planned for availability in March 2012. BlackBerry Mobile Fusion will add management capabilities to BlackBerry Enterprise Server that will encompass other mobile platforms, such as Apple's iOS and the Android mobile operating systems.

AgreeYa did not describe its enterprise solution using Microsoft's protocols. However, Sandy Gupta, Microsoft's general manager of the Open Solutions Group, described it as part of the "consumerization of IT" trend where employees bring their own devices and solutions to work.

"It's a solution for IT organizations that need to support access to these [Microsoft] resources for their end users on employee-owned devices and end-users who want seamless integration of their work and personal lives on their mobile device of choice," Gupta wrote in a blog post. Possibly, the application is being developed for Carnival Cruise Lines, which issued a statement praising the collaboration between Microsoft and AgreeYa.

The deal doesn't appear to be associated with Microsoft's assertion of intellectual property claims over software technologies used in smartphones, such as Microsoft's many legal claims against the Android mobile OS. This licensing deal instead appears to be associated with protocols used in core Microsoft products. Microsoft offers licensing for many of its core products' protocols, both for a fee and at no cost. It's part of program called the "interoperability pledge" that Microsoft announced in February 2008.

"In the protocol space, we've documented protocols for our high volume products and we make the technical documents that explain how they work freely available," a Microsoft spokesperson explained by e-mail. "To implement some of the protocols, a patent license is required. Some patent licenses are free and others require royalty payments."

Use of the protocols is free for noncommercial implementations, according to Microsoft's program. The company released its licensing and documentation program after long struggles with the European Commission and U.S. antitrust authorities over product interoperability issues. For a while, Microsoft's documentation efforts were under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Justice, but that oversight ended in May.

Microsoft's deal with AgreeYa was handled both by Microsoft's Open Solutions Group, as well as the Microsoft IP licensing team, according to the spokesperson.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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