Windows starting to open

The increasing popularity of Linux has led Microsoft to lower the secrecy veil on its Windows source code, with several governments now being offered access to view the software giant’s holy grail for the first time.

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By  Paul Barthram Published  July 31, 2003

The increasing popularity of Linux has led Microsoft to lower the secrecy veil on its Windows source code, with several governments now being offered access to view the software giant’s holy grail for the first time.

Reports suggest that twelve countries have already signed deals with Microsoft with an additional thirty-five under negotiation. The agreements are part of the company’s Government Software Programme, which involves opening up the flagship Windows OS to governments interested in tailoring the software to fit their security needs. Countries said to have signed already include China, Russia, the UK and Austria.

The news comes after what some may describe as a difficult time for Microsoft. Linux with its links to the open source community has increased its share at an unparalleled rate in the OS market to earn a 15% share within a few short years. Meanwhile Microsoft itself is still smarting from losing its lucrative contract with the City of Munich.
The contract which would have involved the upgrading of thousands of desktop PCs was knocked on the head by the City of Munich, afraid of continuing with a costly and unnecessary upgrade to software. Despite Microsoft offering several concessions, the city decided to go with Linux.
The Government Software Programme therefore could be seen as Microsoft’s reaction to a threat against its livelihood, especially as where government’s go, businesses are likely to follow.

Microsoft has a lot to be worried about, Linux is by far cheaper, and its open source tactics has made it instantly popular with government and academia alike, when it comes to running servers.

Within the Middle East, Linux has already been adopted by major government ministries and universities and the situation is mirrored around the world, posing the first serious threat to Microsoft's dominant operating system so far.

The open source community shouldn’t get too excited though as on the corporate side, Microsoft is only offering big enterprises to view, but not change, any of the core Windows source code, while companies with under 1,500 Windows desktops are not permitted any access at all.

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