Microsoft Stands by Its Code

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