Microsoft Stands by Its Code

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-02-20 Print this article Print

The recent leak of Windows source won't cause new practices for Microsoft, officials said. However, developers expressed hope that the company might learn from the leak and possibly consider the benefits of certain open-source concepts.

The leak of some of Microsoft Corp.s Windows source code this month highlights the struggle proprietary software companies face in providing developers, partners and customers access to the code while protecting their own intellectual property.

Although the source code leak, discovered Feb. 12, wont change the way Microsoft shares some Windows code through its Shared Source and Government Security programs, industry watchers and users alike hope the company will learn from the leak and possibly consider the benefits of certain open-source concepts.

But thats not likely to happen soon, according to company officials in Redmond, Wash. Despite the uproar over the leak of Windows 2000 and NT 4.0 source code, the files dont appear to present an immediate security threat to Microsoft or Windows users.

"The directory list that I have seen for the leaked Windows 2000 code runs to some 1,000 pages, but there is no way this could be used to compile a working version of Windows, as its just a small part of the code that would be required for that," said a developer who has seen the source files and who requested anonymity.

The developer said the source files include networking code; code for the Windows Explorer shell, including instructions on how to move pre-Internet Explorer 4.0 Windows shell code to the then-new IE integrated shell; some APIs; and code for IE 5.x.

If anything, the leak could lead to a closer scrutiny of the business models around closed versus open source and the risks and rewards of each.

Next Page: Developers Weigh-in on Exposure

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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