Microsoft Opens Windows Source Code to Its MVPs

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-10-22

Microsoft Opens Windows Source Code to Its MVPs

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday will announce that it is giving its Most Valued Professionals access to the more than 100 million aggregate lines of Windows source code, which includes all versions, service packs and betas of the Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 products.

MVPs, who are chosen for having a "unique set of expertise and passion" around Microsoft technologies and who are recognized for their contributions to online and technical communities, already have access to the source code components for Windows CE .Net, ASP.Net, Visual Studio .Net, and Passport Manager.

Microsofts Shared Source Initiative was first reported by eWEEK in March 2001, and the Redmond, Wash., software titan has been expanding it since then.

Jason Matusow, manager of Microsofts Shared Source Program, confirmed to eWEEK on Tuesday that the MVPs are now an extension of the communities for Windows source code.

"The core reasons for doing this are the fundamental strength and ties of the MVPs to the broader Windows platform community and the new level of expertise this will give them," Matusow said. "They will also be able to improve their feedback to us because their understanding will be at a deeper level.

"Also, the trust in Windows will be improved, and they will be experts in the communities unlike ever before," he said.

The MVPs had been very vocal about having access to the Windows source code, he said, adding that Microsoft had held a beta release cycle around this earlier this year. Of the hundreds who applied, 31 were accepted and 27 actually signed up to get their hands on the code, far more than among enterprise customers who are eligible to receive it.

"With enterprise customers it is critical that the option to have the code is there, rather than actually needing or wanting to do so," Matusow said. "Thats the difference between them and the MVP community. To be eligible for the Windows code, MVPs must maintain their status as a Windows Server System, Windows or Visual developer MVP and they must reside in an eligible country."

Some 1,200 of Microsofts MVPs will be eligible for the Windows source code, and Microsoft expects about 20 percent of them to take advantage of the offer, which would be a higher number than for any of its other programs, he said.

Asked by eWEEK if there are any plans to share additional source code with the MVPs or other groups, Matusow said that is always a possibility and is something Microsoft continues to look at and listen to feedback about.

Next page: Is Office source code next?

Page Two

Asked specifically about Office, he said giving access to the Office source code is "ultimately a possibility if MVPs come to us and say they want and need it. A lot of the MVPs are focused on the desktop and productivity applications, so we are willing to walk down that path and look at what that would look like. But its not available today," he said.

MVP Phil Webster, the founder of cSwing LLC, a golf swing video analysis company based in El Paso, Texas, welcomes the possibility of more source code becoming available over time. He told eWEEK that a limitation with the program is that access is given pretty much just to the operating system source code.

"If something comes out that is not tied directly to the operating system, like DirectX 9, the code may not then be made available to me, depending on what happens with the upcoming Windows XP Service pack. I would really like access to the current DirectX source tree code," he said.

For its part, Microsoft has assured Webster that this is something the company is looking into, he said.

While Webster said MVPs would have liked access to the code earlier, he understands what a difficult challenge giving such access poses. "But we are more apt to give Microsoft feedback than its enterprise customers because we use its products and push them to the limit," he said.

The expansion of the Windows Shared Source Programs to MVPs is part of a process of continually expanding that program, Lori Moore, a corporate vice president for product support and services at Microsoft, told eWEEK in an interview.

The number of MVPs has risen over the past year from some 1,250 representing 55 products in 40 languages to 1,868 supporting some 70 Microsoft technologies in 67 countries.

"We are expanding the program cautiously and trying to make sure we have good language support in different regions and effective evangelists out there in the community on behalf of Microsofts products," she said.

Microsoft does not give its MVPs any monetary payment; they were volunteers in the community, Moore said, noting that Microsoft continually enhances the program to help them build product expertise.

MVPs will now also benefit from Microsoft Learning as they want access to all the latest content, training and materials for both new and old products. "Were leveraging a lot of the in-house knowledge that we have and that of our engineers and product teams and making that available to the MVPs," Moore said.

"They will also receive content around IT pros and developers in the marketplace through the Microsoft eLearning library. They will also receive a Microsoft Certified Professional voucher that can be used for exams," she said.

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