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
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
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.”