RealTime IT News

'Peek-List' Expands to Windows Source Code

Microsoft is expanding its select list of developers who get to peek at the source code of more recent Windows operating systems, a move that expands its "Shared Source" program of giving governments and partners limited access to the code of its key products.

Analysts see the expansion of the "shared source" list as another response by Microsoft to the open source movement. But unlike open source development, in which developers can access and alter key source code, the Microsoft "shared source" program gives developers limited access, while Microsoft retains its rights to the product.

The software giant, readying for the launch of its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles next week, said it would expand its "Most Valuable Professional Source Licensing Program (MVPSLP)," to select individuals with expertise in one or more Microsoft products and technologies.

Since Microsoft started its "shared source" licensing initiative a few years ago, select developers, or Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs), with expertise in Microsoft products have been eligible to receive Microsoft source code components for Windows CE .NET, ASP.NET, Visual Studio .NET, and Passport Manager.

Wednesday's announcement expands those code offerings to include Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 source code access, at least for eligible MVPs. Microsoft said the new visibility into Microsoft Windows source code would enrich the broader customer and community support for organizations using the Windows platform.

The expansion comes as Microsoft sounds a recurring theme of more transparency and responsiveness to customers as it develops and rolls out new products. For example, during the company's official launch of Office 2003 in New York Tuesday, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates repeatedly said the advanced new features in the Office suite were built after careful consideration of customer feedback about the programs.

"We listened and we listened hard," said Gates, who was also marking the first major product launch since he took on the role of Chief Software Architect for Microsoft.

Wednesday's expanded list of developers getting a peek at select Windows source code also echoed those themes. Microsoft said the expansion of the MVP shared source list "raises the level of self-support the community can find, inspires greater community participation and provides a stronger feedback loop to Microsoft. MVPs help shape product development and research and provide a valuable link through which Microsoft can listen to customers."

The company said the "Shared Source" programs help support customers while encouraging new development and supporting teaching and research.

Jim Allchin, group vice president of the Platforms Group at Microsoft, called himself a huge fan of MVPs. "They do a great deal to help Microsoft customers," he said in a statement. "Giving them access to one of our most valuable assets, Windows source code, is a testimonial to how much we value this dedicated group of people."