RealTime IT News

Microsoft Expands Shared Source to EU Members

Facing increased pressure from the European Union (EU), Microsoft announced the expansion of its Shared Source Initiative (SSI) in seven countries Monday.

Redmond added Slovenia, Slovakia, Malta, Lithuania, Latvia, Cyprus and Estonia to the list of existing EU countries participating in the program. Eligible participants in seven EU countries will gain access to the code in Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows CE and Windows Server 2003 shared source programs.

The SSI gives software developers, OEMs , systems integrators and academic institutions a peek at some of the source code in the software giant's applications under a license that allows them to view, modify and redistribute changes.

"Transparency leads to greater trust and opportunity," said Jason Matusow, Microsoft's SSI director. "Over the past four years, we have constantly looked for ways to expand the [SSI] -- across technologies, license types and geographies to better listen to what our customers and partners are asking of us. Expanding the Windows source code access [programs] to the whole of the EU is another important step in this process."

The announcement comes days after the European Commission (EC) levied its latest assault on the U.S.-based software company over its interoperability efforts, or lack thereof. On Friday, members of the commission said they had doubts about Microsoft's ability to comply with its order to make the Windows operating system platform interoperable with other software providers.

The EC last year handed down a $613 million fine against Microsoft for violating European antitrust laws, stipulating that the company must also unbundle its Windows Media Player from its OS, as well as release server system code to other companies so they could create interoperable applications.

Laura DiDio, a senior analyst with the Yankee Group, said expansion of the SSI in EU countries is a good idea. She pointed out that, although many analysts and members of the press will look on Monday's announcement with some suspicion, the company is aware of the scrutiny it faces worldwide and is making an earnest effort to comply with the EC's decision.

"They've got competition from Linux," she said. "They know that the EU is really out to nail them. It's like a game of piqata with the European Union. They just want to take the big stick and whack [Microsoft].

"So anything that Microsoft can do to partner, or any initiative they can make to address these concerns has to be helpful," she continued. "I think that Microsoft is truly trying to address the EU's concerns and not just paying lip service to it."