Microsoft has signed a deal to share detailed information about its Windows software with a free software group, marking one of the first concrete results of the European Commission's anti-trust sanctions meted against the software giant.

The deal, made through a third-party - means Microsoft will help non-profit software-maker Samba to develop a product known as work group server software that allows small groups of users to sign in to a system and print documents.

The deal was signed in the United States through the non-profit Protocol Freedom Foundation.

The agreement allows us to keep Samba up to date with recent changes in Microsoft Windows, and also helps other Free Software projects that need to interoperate with Windows, said Andrew Tridgell, the creator of Samba.

Microsoft's compliance with Samba's request for access to the software was the result of a 2004 decision in an antitrust lawsuit. Microsoft fought the decision in court but it was upheld in a European Court this year as being valid.

The foundation has paid Microsoft a onetime fee of 10,000 euros to get access to the necessary information and server protocols.