HealthVault protocols will be released under the Open Specification Promise

Back in October I interviewed Sean Nolan, chief architect for HealthVault. Now he’s launched a blog, and in his latest post he writes:

  • Microsoft will make the complete HealthVault XML interface protocol specification public.
  • With this information, developers will be able to reimplement the HealthVault service and run their own versions of the system.
  • Microsoft will irrevocably promise that we will not make patent claims against you for implementing the specification, subject to the terms of the OSP.

Excellent! My take on HealthVault is that it’s doing the right things in the right ways. This announcement confirms that.

5 Comments

  1. “Is this a reaction…”

    Dunno, and in any case couldn’t say. But as Peter Neupert said back in the October interview, the plan has always been to do this thing in an open and interoperable way.

  2. Jon, I don’t think the OSP is sufficient unless the actual patents are disclosed. For one thing, it is possible for even reasonable people to disagree whether any individual patent is necessary to implement the specification.

    For another, a system that basically consists of two or more OSP-covered specifications (and their patents) can itself be patented and still not be covered by the OSP.

    So, in effect, the only thing that the OSP guarantees is that an implementation is not liable as long as it restricts itself to a literal, minimalistic implementation of the specification in isolation and is never combined with other code (even code implementing other OSP-covered specifications) into a larger system, or extended (even in a compatible way) beyond the specification, even in ways obvious to an average practitioner.

    There is too much scope for mischief here to expect that invoking the OSP will engender much trust in the face of Microsoft’s past conduct.

  3. As the recent announcement from the SFLC has shown, the OSP needs to be improved considerably if it’s going to be taken seriously as a marker for open-ness.

    Jon, is there any indication that the OSP is open to revision?

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