Most of the motivations for open systems lie in the expectation of interoperability, sometimes referred to as “plug-and-play”. Nothing in the notion of “open-ness”, however, guarantees this outcome, which makes the increased interest in open architecture more perplexing. In this paper, we explore certain themes of open architecture. We introduce the concept of “windows of interoperability”, which can be used to align disparate portions of architecture. Such “windows of interoperability”, which concentrate on a reduced set of protocol and interface features, might achieve many of the broader purposes assigned as benefits in open architecture. Since it is possible to engineer proprietary systems that interoperate effectively, this nuanced definition of interoperability may in fact be a more important concept to understand and nurture for effective systems engineering and maintenance.