Last November, Microsoft made a royalty-free license for the Microsoft Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas and accompanying documentation widely available. XML Reference Schemas licensees benefit from more readily available data identification within documents, ease of report generation and document assembly from existing content, and extraction of existing data for automated processing, Matusow said. This, along with adding the Office 2003 source code to the GSP, were "integral to Microsofts efforts to address data exchange and integration needs of governments throughout the world," he said.
Microsofts Shared Source Initiative was first reported by eWEEK in March 2001, and the Redmond, Wash., software titan has been expanding it since then. Microsoft also gives its Most Valued Professionals (MVPs) access to the source code for the Windows operating system.
It recently expanded that program to allow all the MVPs within the Microsoft platforms community and living within the 27 eligible countries worldwide to access Windows source code at no cost.
The source code provided under that program covers Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and future versions of Windows operating systems, including all released versions, service packs, betas and subsequent releases.
Asked if Microsoft intended to offer access to the Office source code to its MVPs and partners going forward, Matusow said that while there was no plan to do that at this time, "we are always open to hearing from our MVPs and partners as to what they need and to work with them around this."
Earlier this year, Microsoft also released the source code for its Windows Template Library under the open-source Common Public License and posted it on SourceForge, the open-source code repository.
The Windows Template Library is a library for developing Windows applications and user interface components. It also extends the Active Template Library and provides a set of classes for controls, dialogs, frame windows, GDI objects and more.
That move followed Microsofts decision the month before to make available on SourceForge an internally developed product called the Windows Installer XML.
Microsoft has been losing many high-profile customers to Linux—many of them governments and governmental agencies and departments. The governments of Britain, Brazil, Japan, Israel, South Korea, China, South Africa and Russia are also all exploring open-source alternatives to Microsoft, while federal agencies in Germany, France and China are already using or considering open-source desktops, applications and productivity suites.
Microsoft has also admitted it is facing growing pressure from open-source software across every segment of its business: Its a competitive threat that could have significant consequences for its financial future going forward, the software maker said in its latest 10-K filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month.
Microsoft also made specific reference to the targeting of foreign governments in the filing, saying that "while we believe our products provide customers with significant advantages in security and productivity, and generally have a lower total cost of ownership than open-source software, the popularization of the noncommercial software model continues to pose a significant challenge to our business model, including recent efforts by proponents of open-source software to convince governments worldwide to mandate the use of open-source software in their purchase and deployment of software products."
But Microsoft has been fighting back and has been actively lobbying governments around the world to shun open-source applications and Linux.
In addition, this January Microsoft launched a new advertising campaign called "Get the Facts," which aims to give customers information about the advantages of using its Windows operating system instead of Linux, its open-source competitor.