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Microsoft shares Windows source code with Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has signed a government security programme (GSP) with Microsoft. The GSP agreement provides the government access to Windows and Office source code, detailed technical information and guaranteed support directly from Microsoft.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has signed a government security programme (GSP) with Microsoft. The GSP agreement provides the government access to Windows and Office source code as well as detailed technical information and guaranteed support directly from Microsoft.

“In matters ranging from national defence to protection of our citizens’ personal data, we must place security at the forefront of our information-technology requirements. The GSP addresses not only our unique security requirements, but it also allows us to protect our investments in value added software components and applications running on the Microsoft platform,” says Dr. Fawaz Zu’bi, Jordan's Minister of ICT.

Launched in January 2003, GSP is one of Microsoft’s efforts to address the security requirements of governments throughout the world by providing them access to the Windows Server 2003 and MS Office 2003 source code and technical information. Till date more than 34 governments around the world have partnered in this programme with the rights to review and access key Microsoft source code.

Source code is the readable form of code typically created in a high-level programming language such as C, C++, Java, which runs the operating system and applications. It also constitutes a critical part of a commercial software vendor's assets.

The GSP also enables government personnel to work jointly with Microsoft professionals for the purposes of validating the security of Microsoft Software. In addition to source access, the GSP provides for the disclosure of technical information about the Windows and Office products, for faster in country integration of Microsoft’s platform to key government applications.

Finally, the agreement includes working with Windows security professionals and other government partners, providing opportunities for Jordanian Government programmers to visit Microsoft's development facilities in Redmond, Washington. These trips enable reviews of various code releases, development, testing and deployment processes.

“At Microsoft, we view governments that utilise our software as trusted partners. The GSP will provide the Jordan Government with the opportunity to use our source code to assess the security and integrity of the Microsoft products they deploy,” says Maggie Wilderotter, senior Microsoft vice president, public sector.

With several governments such as China, Thailand, Germany, Brazil and other governments in the Middle East opting for Linux and open source platform, which under the GPL license includes free and unrestricted access to all source code.

Industry observers believe the move by Microsoft is more of a compulsion to compete with Linux than an altrustic gesture as this is a sharp contrast with Microsoft’s earlier practice of closely guarding its crown jewels -- its source code.

Earlier this year, the Governments of Bahrain and Egypt signed similar GSP agreements with the software vendor.

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