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SEATTLE (AP) -- The source code Microsoft Corp. has long guarded as secret intellectual
property is now becoming the carrot dangled before governments to keep them from defecting to
Microsoft on Tuesday announced a new program to make the underlying code for its Windows
operating system available to several governments and governmental agencies for viewing.
The software company has already signed agreements with the Russian government and NATO to
allow them to review for free the underlying programming instructions that Microsoft has long
guarded as secret intellectual property.
The decision will let governments evaluate for themselves the security of the Windows
platform, Microsoft said. It also will give them the technical data they need to develop their
own secure applications to work atop Windows.
The announcement comes as government agencies in Japan, France, Germany, China and the United
States are looking into or adopting competitors' software, including open-source Linux-based
systems. Unlike Microsoft's proprietary software, the underlying code for open-source code
software can be downloaded free, improved and redistributed.
"It's a brilliant maneuver," said Michael Gartenberg, research director for Jupiter Research.
"It gives them a huge (public relations) win, gives them a response back to the open-source
folks and also provides the impetus that many of the government organizations have been
looking for to continue doing business with them."
The "Government Security Program" is similar to Microsoft's "shared-source" program,
introduced in 2001, in which it makes some of its source code available on a limited basis to
clients and technology partners.
'Fully aware of the risks'
Microsoft has a list of more than 60 countries and organizations with which it would consider
signing agreements, including China, France and the United States, said Salah Dandan, the
program's worldwide manager. The Redmond, Washington-based company said it is confident
governments will respect Microsoft's intellectual property and isn't worried about piracy or
other infringements, he said.
"The basic business decision that we decided to make here is that Microsoft is willing to
trust governments and willing to partner closely with them," Dandan said. "We are fully aware
of the risks, but cognizant that this program will help strengthen relationships with
governments around the world."
The program covers Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows CE and Windows Server 2003, due for
release in April.
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Originally posted by Mara Not sure if it ill be a victory. For goverment use, it's not open code what matters, it's TCO.
However, since so many governments already have M$ products in use, they may decide to just stick with it, if the code meets their approval. It's all about money. It costs alot of money to switch platforms. retraining, new support personnel, etc.
Originally posted by KnightAbel However, since so many governments already have M$ products in use, they may decide to just stick with it, if the code meets their approval. It's all about money. It costs alot of money to switch platforms. retraining, new support personnel, etc.
In worst case it won't change anything... 'The goverments' can't read the code. Are the ministers programmers? They need people to read it, write opinions etc. If the same 'license' is used when you view it as it's used not, not many people will be willing to do this...
Originally posted by Mara In worst case it won't change anything... 'The goverments' can't read the code. Are the ministers programmers? They need people to read it, write opinions etc. If the same 'license' is used when you view it as it's used not, not many people will be willing to do this...
That's an interesting point, but I think they're tech support guys would be able to... they would prolly be the ones saying yeah or nay on that.