Why Microsoft Should Open Source the Leaked Source

ANALYSIS: Redmond would be smart to make lemonade out of lemons by releasing the rest of the Windows code and letting developers have at it.

February 12, 2004, was a day that will have many far-reaching consequences for Microsoft. In every sense, it was their very own September 11: A sea-change event that has shaken the foundation of the companys business model and the security of every Windows system on the planet.

The unauthorized partial leak of the Windows 2000 and NT 4.0 source code will present many problems for the software giant. But rather than dwell on the impossible task of cleansing the Web of this unauthorized code and seeking to prosecute those who distribute it, Microsoft should capitalize on the situation.

Why not make lemonade out of lemons by doing the unthinkable: Redistribute the complete NT4 and Windows 2000 code base via either a fully OSS-certified or quasi-open-source license on the MSDN web site?

Sound crazy? Maybe. But think about the positive implications of a fully Microsoft-sanctioned complete release of this code:

  • As is the case with the Linux distributed open-source development model, public scrutiny of the Windows 2000 and NT 4.0 code would allow developers, academic and professional, to submit bug fixes and product enhancements directly to Microsoft. This could help resolve long-standing security holes and add many simple but still-missing features that still have not been fixed or addressed in the closed-source version of the software.

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