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By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2003-03-18 Print this article Print

: Microsoft Shared Source Inititative Comes Under Fire"> Further, Tiemann said most customers, even most developers, dont want to access source code. "Access to source code is not the primary concern of most people," he said. "But having the option to work with that code is important." Under Microsofts SSI program, users can access but not modify code.
"Shared source is not open source, and we dont try to say that it is," Matusow said.
He said people want to improve support, strengthen deployments, perform security audits, and augment custom application development, all of which Microsofts SSI enables. Microsoft technology available under shared source includes Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003, CE, as well as C# and the Common Language Infrastructure, ASP.Net sample applications and the Passport Manager. "Acquiring software based on value for money is far more important than acquiring software based on the way it was made," Matusow said. He touted Microsofts Government Security Program, where Microsoft makes its software available to governments "to increase the level of trust with any national government making use of our technology." To date Microsoft has offered Windows source to 62 governments, with the United Kingdom, NATO, Russia and China having accepted bids. However, Matusow took hits for this. In particular, audience members said they saw irony in Microsoft offering Windows source to China, which has a reputation for piracy. Matusow said Microsoft has an iron clad contract with China and believes the code is safe with the government. One attendee said he was curious about how Microsoft could argue that opening up Windows source code was a national security risk during its antitrust trial, and yet the company offers Windows source to foreign governments. Another attendee found irony in Microsofts claims that it could allow no modifications to its source code so as to protect its 750,000 business partners. "Isnt it ironic that you say the government cant modify your code so as to protect other companies, when there was a time the government was trying to protect them from you!" a questioner said. Matusow said: "We do have business partners we need to consider. But Im not here to debate the merits of a court decision." Others took shots at Microsoft for its stance on the GNU General Public License and government adoption of it. Matusow basically said Microsoft wants to see government software, and innovations that come out of government research "should be available to all." Matusow also said he believes there is no connection to be made between the use of open-source software development paradigms and open standards. "Open source and open standards are fundamentally different things," he said, noting that proprietary software can meet open standards as well.
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Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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