Microsoft Corp. said on Thursday it will share trade secrets to facilitate information sharing and connections with third-party products in a bid to comply with European regulators and increase compatibility of its software with that of competitors and customers.

The software giant said it will publish the so-called protocols used to connect its most popular software to other programs, eliminating an advantage its products had over rivals.

During a news conference with top executives, the Redmond, Wash., software company said it will implement four new interoperability principles and actions across its business products. The aim is to ensure open connections, promote data portability, enhance support for industry standards, and foster more open engagement with customers and the industry, including open-source communities.

As of today, the company will release some 30,000 pages of documentation surrounding Windows client and server protocols on its website. This information was previously available only under a trade secret license.

Microsoft said the move puts them in full compliance with European law.

In addition, Microsoft will free up protocols around its client and server software and has vowed not to sue open source companies that create non-commercial versions of these protocols.

These steps represent an important step and significant change in how we share information about our products and technologies, said the Microsoft chief executive, Steve Ballmer.

For the past 33 years, we have shared a lot of information with hundreds of thousands of partners around the world and helped build the industry, but today's announcement represents a significant expansion toward even greater transparency, Ballmer noted.

The interoperability principles apply to Microsoft Vista, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2007, Exchange Server 2007, and Office SharePoint Server 2007, as well as all future versions of the same products.

The European Commission launched new antitrust investigations into Microsoft earlier in January to determine whether it failed to comply with competition rules to help its Web browser and its Office and Outlook products.