"We used to think that these were our great trade secrets," said Muglia, who oversees Microsoft's efforts around servers and tools.
Microsoft posted the documentation, more than 44,000 pages worth, as part of a broader campaign under which the software maker pledged support for software industry interoperability and standards. "This is not light bedtime reading," said Muglia.
Microsoft in February said it would adopt four new "interoperability principles" to guide its business practices.
First, the company said it would work to ensure that its products feature "open connections" that will allow outside developers to more easily write programs that interact with its own. Second, Microsoft pledged to support new data portability methods that will allow information stored in Microsoft products such as Office 2007 to be accessed by other programs.
Microsoft also said it would more fully embrace industry standards in "high-volume" products such as the Windows operating system to enhance interoperability with third-party software. Finally, the company said it would increase communications with customers, IT managers, and the open source community.
"We caught the world by surprise," Muglia said Tuesday.
He conceded that there's still some skepticism over whether Microsoft will follow through on the pledges. "People say, 'We'll just have to wait and see,' " said Muglia. "Well, we've already done it," he said, pointing to the 44,000 pages of online documentation it's made public.
Muglia said interoperability is a key part of Microsoft's "10-year vision" for building systems that add up to "dynamic IT."
With that in mind, Microsoft on Tuesday released for public testing additions for its Systems Center Operations Manager tool that allow it to manage and maintain non-Microsoft resources on a network, including systems based on the Solaris, AIX, and Linux operating systems.
Microsoft also said Tuesday that it will join the OpenPegasus Steering Committee and contribute code back to the open source community under the Microsoft Public License, an Open Source Initiative-approved license.