By Daisuke Wakabayashi

Feb 22, Reuters

REDMOND, Washington - Microsoft Corp said on Thursday it would publish key software blueprints to let rival programs work better with its products and address some European antitrust concerns.

The world's largest software company said it would follow up with more actions to address European demands, although the European Commission said Thursday's move did not resolve a key issue about how Microsoft's products are tied together.

Microsoft has been criticized for shutting out competitors by incorporating programs such as its media player closely into its Windows operating system, and by keeping secret product details that rival developers need to ensure smooth operation with Windows and other Microsoft products.

Thursday's move would open up to competitors some of the secret codes behind key products like Windows Vista. But the steps do not address the allegations of product tie-ups.

"Microsoft kind of kept its software products as a walled garden, and it is kind of opening the gates to the garden," said Toan Tran, a Morningstar analyst.

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photo: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, with general counsel Brad Smith (L) and Ray Ozzie (R), chief software architect, speak to reporters at a news conference at company headquarters in Redmond, Washington, February 21, 2008 (REUTERS/Robert Sorbo)