Microsoft has moved to open up the way it works and shares information it announced today.

The news comes following Gates' recent handing over of all day-to-day dealings with the company suggesting that now the founder is due to leave, the curtain of secrecy will be lifted.

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

"Our goal is to promote greater interoperability, opportunity and choice for customers and developers throughout the industry by making our products more open and by sharing even more information about our technologies."

According to the Redmond-based company, it is implementing four new interoperability principles and corresponding actions across its high-volume business products: (1) ensuring open connections; (2) promoting data portability; (3) enhancing support for industry standards; and (4) fostering more open engagement with customers and the industry, including open source communities.

The interoperability principles and actions announced today will apply to Windows Vista (including the .NET Framework), Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2007, Exchange Server 2007, and Office SharePoint Server 2007, and future versions of all these products.