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MS Proposes Disclosing Windows Source To India 512

raghuram writes "Interesting news from Economic Times of India, I found an interesting story, Microsoft Planning to Share Code with India." He excerpts from that article: "Microsoft has already made a proposal to the ministry of information technology (of India) for sharing the Windows source code with one government body. The nature of the body has not been spelt out; it will presumably be worked out after discussions between the company and the government officials. Interestingly, the offer comes at a time when state governments are showing interest in rival Linux operating system as the latter's source code is free and downloadable from the internet."
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MS Proposes Disclosing Windows Source To India

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  • Wild... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cyclometh ( 629276 )

    One wonders if this is a precedent being set, or if this is just a bid to get into the good graces of what is arguably the current largest current producer of software developers (and cheap ones, too)?

    Cynical, I know...

    • Re:Wild... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Flyskippy1 ( 625890 )
      I'm sure M$ is just covering their ass and giving an excuse to foreign governments not to switch to Linux. Of course, if makes you wonder if India can be convinced to leak it. It would only take one person and one copy....
      • Re:Wild... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cyclometh ( 629276 )

        Well, I reread the article, and it doesn't say whether they're thinking about opening the whole thing up to this agency or just select portions... they've given up parts of their code before to big corps and some educational institutions before, but I don't think they've ever given anyone the whole shebang.

        Given how MS has protected its source in the past, I wouldn't count on any leaks, even if they do strike some kind of deal. I just don't see it happening.

        • Re:Wild... (Score:5, Funny)

          by vsprintf ( 579676 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:24PM (#4876511)
          Really, what would you want the code to Windows for? There are already bootleg binaries for those so inclined. The source code for all that bloat has to be reams and reams of bad hackery, worse patches, and blatant bandaids.

          I suppose there would be the humor factor of being able to point out the lines that say,

          // Leave commented out until appeals are over.
          // remove( "C:\Program Files\Netscape\Netscape.exe" );
        • Re:Wild... (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          We, at my college, have NT 4 or 5 on CD (I think it's a 6 or 7 CD set). Entire source, but it's basically shelved away: the professors don't care about it, and the students generally don't know about it (or, if they do, care enough to sign an nda and get a professor to access the cds).

      • Re:Wild... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SpaceLifeForm ( 228190 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @11:17PM (#4877558)
        Please, if anyone does get the source,
        please, please, do NOT leak it.

        The bugs could get corrected, which could lead to competition for Linux.

    • Re:Wild... (Score:2, Funny)

      by Vladequacy ( 633590 )
      No if they wanted to get into Microsoft's good graces they'd just start paying for software.
      • Re:Wild... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Cyclometh ( 629276 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @07:59PM (#4876297)

        In general, they're already paying for it (at least the goverments are, and I don't know how bad the piracy problem is in India...)

        I think what's got Microsoft talking opening their source to the Indian government is that India and some other nations have been making noises about switching to open-source OSes. Maybe this is the first of several overtures to fractious governments.

        Microsoft, after all, can offer some pretty tasty carrots with their sticks...

    • If it is a precedent being set, then it could very well be how the population of an entire country operates.

      Most people think that 'operating systems' are something that are confined to the workings of computers. History, however, would point out that the term 'computer' used to refer to a person, whose job was to compute (with an abacus or something). Similarly, an 'operating system' also affects how people perform their jobs... Have you ever had somebody tell you something like 'OK, so click Start, Programs, Office, Word' And without thinking, you go through a set of motions that are nearly instinctual? That's an example of how people use operating systems to communicate information and tasks to other people.

      I digress a bit. The way I see it, the United States has sort of a 'protective ward' or 'shield' against this kind of stuff, because the USA has a 250+ year old operating system which the federal government uses. The code? Written down in the US Constitution.

      Anyhow, the way I see it, you are right, sharing the source code of their OS with a government does seem like its setting a bit of an odd precedent. As far as I can tell, it's sort of like saying, 'OK, we'll organize your billion people just like we organize our files on a supercomputer.' And every person gets a profile, access, authority, and authentication to certain network resources (can you say access control lists (ACLS)?). Hmmm.

      It seems to me that it's suggesting a rather Brave-New-World-esque operating system for India. Very, very weird precedent.
    • Re:Wild... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:30PM (#4876554) Journal
      One wonders if this is a precedent being set

      There's nothing new about this about this. Microsoft has made source available (under an NDA) for years, probably always. Presumably the fact that there are now competing operating systems and applications that offer complete and routine access to source may push them to offer source more liberally but there's nothing new here.

      All that's new is that journalists and readers now know what the words "source code" mean.

    • Re:Wild... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by KeatonMill ( 566621 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:30PM (#4876559)
      And really, do you think they'll give them ALL the source cold or even the CORRECT source code?
      • Re:Wild... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2002 @09:10PM (#4876853)
        This is what Microsoft constantly misses with their "shared source" and other programs - it's not merely being able to LOOK at the sources as if they were museum pieces on display that is worth anything. The power of open source is that you can build those sources and use the executables. If there are security holes in the software, having a pile of source that you can't build and run is completely useless - you can never know if what you have is the source for the product it claims or is a really complicated BIOS for your toaster oven. Auditing a complete unknown set of sources that claim to be something is something - but you have no buildable proof - would be a colossal mistake.

        Want to know the punch line to all of this? Linux has reduced Microsoft into one of those little squeaky "Me too!"s that are little more than flame bait..

        QUICK! Reply to this email that you'll attach your OS sources and we'll send you all of the free image-upgrading pr0n you can handle!
      • Re:Wild... (Score:5, Funny)

        by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @10:49PM (#4877408) Homepage
        They have correct source code??
    • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:33PM (#4876574)
      and set by Linux. Whether MS likes it or not, and whoever acknowledges it or not, the effective price of a functioning OS, complete with bundled office suite, is now $0. The effective method of delivery is with full source code.

      The genie is out of the bottle. MS is the follower.

      MS is running a slow retreat. It will do so as slowly as it can, as seldom as it can.

      That is why it's offering the code to India but fought the DoJ tooth and nail. The *Indian* government's interest in Linux is one that MS believes is serious. It does not yet take the American govenments *use* of Linux seriously. When it does the American *government* will get code, but just exactly that least amount of code that will "seal the deal."

      Rinse and repeat.

      This is always the case when a business is based on "secret knowledge." Once someone else learns the knowledge they undercut the orginal seller. Once the knowledge is ubiquitous the knowledge has no commercial value per se and the "price" of the knowledge becomes the price of the labor to impliment it.

      So it has been. So it is. So it shall be.

      Eventually Windows and MS Office will sell, together, for about $40, about the price of a boxed Red Hat distro, and come with a certain amount of user readable and modifiable code.

      It's where the market is already, it's just going to take a bit of time for it to overcome it's inertia and readjust to the current state of affairs.

      With MS kicking and screaming all the way.

      Because of this Linux *will never win.* At least in the sense of being the one true OS that dominates the world. It will eventually have too much competition *at it's own level.*

      But that will be because its *principles* carried the day.

      Somewhere in its heart MS realizes this. This is why it's so willing to aggresively seek various means of forcing Windows usage. It's the only tactic it has left.

      Which is a clear indication that the game is already lost.

      • <quote>Somewhere in its heart MS realizes this </quote>

        I agree with everything except the above quote. I won't go so far as to say Microsoft doesn't have a heart (since we're anthromorphizing here, anyway), just that it keeps it in a freezer, since it never had any use for one - that would be bad for business :-)

    • Microsoft can follow parts of the Open Source model. By releasing source code to governments, they get lots of free bug fixers... and it all gets financed with taxpayer monies.

      Kudos Microsoft!

  • HHAA (Score:2, Funny)

    by Vladequacy ( 633590 )
    "The basic idea behind open source is very simple. " ...says the article.

    Wow, try telling RMS that.
    • Simple != Obvious (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sjbe ( 173966 )
      "The basic idea behind open source is very simple. " ...says the article.

      Wow, try telling RMS that.

      The idea behind open source is simple. It just isn't terribly intuitive to most folks in the business world.

  • by penguin_punk ( 66721 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @07:49PM (#4876202) Journal
    MS Proposes Disclosing Windows Source To India ...but when the US' DoJ asks for the source, all hell breaks loose? What's up with that?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      What's up with that?

      Because the American government wasn't considering using a rival OS.

    • by metacosm ( 45796 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @07:55PM (#4876264)
      US DOJ wasn't a major government shifting away from MS.

      Security is very important to foreign countries... and having the source would help them be less concerned about backdoors.

      This is a way to take one of the arguments for Linux off the table. They will only use this trick in places that are actively try to switch away.
    • Unlike India, the United States Dept. of Justice is not a potential customer.

      Instead, DOJ already is a Microsoft customer, and one of the biggest, to the tune of many thousands of machines. :)
  • Sweet... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dyolf Knip ( 165446 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @07:50PM (#4876213) Homepage
    I give them 6 hours before the source is leaked and we can peruse (and be horrified) at our leisure.
    • Re:Sweet... (Score:4, Funny)

      by TheWhaleShark ( 414271 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @07:53PM (#4876240) Journal
      6 hours? The minute this was announced, the source showed up in sidewalk kiosks in China.
    • Sweet... 'n Sour (Score:4, Interesting)

      by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:00PM (#4876303) Homepage Journal
      Sweet: If Windows source is made available in India and becomes available worldwide.

      Sour: If Windows source is already available to selected developers right here at home, why hasn't someone leaked it?

      My understanding of "Shared Source" was that Microsoft shows you theirs if you promise not to tell what it looks like. I naturally assumed that with the code being such a closely held secret, that it would be on the newsgroups before you could say groups-dot-google-dot-com.

      But then, it may just be my ignorance showing... I'm just a VB coder staying away from the bleeding edge -- in order to provide my clients with code that works the same way each time.
      • by Dark Lord Seth ( 584963 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:20PM (#4876478) Journal
        why hasn't someone leaked it?

        Looking into the source code might require signing a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) that states that all financial damages which occur due to leaking the source can be reclaimed on the person who signed the NDA. It can't be that hard to hide some obscure hex value in a constant in some unimportant part of windows which can be traced to people who have access to the sources. Also, do you think MS would give it's source code to companies that are against MS?

    • Re:Sweet... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Captn Pepe ( 139650 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:07PM (#4876364)
      And here you have the conspiracy-theorist motive for such an action: MS isn't afraid of India switching to Linux, but of the millions of engineers India turns out becoming millions of open source Linux programmers. But if MS can ensure that they will all have seen the Windows sources at some point, then they'll never again be able to contribute code to any major project, lest MS get all litigious about the possibility of misappropriated code. Might not win in the courts, but raise your hand if you'd like to see a federal judge slap a preliminary injunction on any distribution of the Linux kernel until the mess is sorted out!

      True? Nah, likely not. Would it work? Just possibly. We've all heard about Samba developers who treat MS code like a toddler running around with ebola milkshakes (cover eyes and run).
    • Re:Sweet... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ProgressiveCynic ( 624271 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:30PM (#4876552) Homepage
      Actually, it will be little harder than that. I've got access to the Windows source at work, and it's not like you just get the source tree as files. Access is through a special viewer that requires a smart card with the correct certificate to be inserted while viewing, and then only allows particular files to be viewed through a special GUI. You could copy and paste each file out of the GUI and build your own source tree, but since we're talking about hundreds of thousands of files and gigabytes of data it would probably take a little more than six hours. At least until they automated it.
    • Re:Sweet... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )
      Ok, then why hasn't it already leaked. Arizona State University in Phoenix Arizona has the Window source code, as do many other research instutitions. Have a look at sity/NTSrcLicInfo.aspx.

      It's not like the Windows code is some uber secret that noone outside MS has ever seen, it is just controled. What MS objects to is having to give their source code to their competitors or to the public at large, not to certian groups of their choosing.
  • by fahrvergnugen ( 228539 ) <> on Thursday December 12, 2002 @07:50PM (#4876217) Homepage
    Does this remind anyone else of the girl behind the bushes who'd promise to show you hers if you let her see yours, but never quite followed through?
  • Running scared (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <> on Thursday December 12, 2002 @07:52PM (#4876231) Journal
    Here is a link to the actual article [] .

    It sounds like Microsoft is running scared now. They realise that India is a powerhose because it has way more people (population) than the United States.

    India seems to be tilted toward linux right now and if the linux movement there gets into full swing, the momentum will be very, very hard for Microsoft to stop.

    I hope the Indians look to the long terms effects of the windows and linux paths, as opposed to short terms benefits.

    • Bah! I didn't notice that there were two links in the story, one with the correct link already present. Sorry!
    • What leads you to believe that they're leaning towards linux?

      Last time I was in India (~2,3 years ago) there were by far more signs up in Bombay about C# courses than anything else.
  • I do not feel that this is a smart move for a company that cares about protecting it's source. Piracy and illegal computer activity are densest in asia, and india is close to china, the piracy capital of the world. Microsoft's NT code and interface code would be gold in the hands of one of their rivals, such as Apple, and that could give the competition quite a boost.

    I feel MS should be more careful with their products, free software would deffinately be more appropriate for piracy-rampant asia. go linux!
    • A year or so ago, hackers broke into M$ and stole the NT source code. I'm sure that it's floating around somewhere if you really want it.

      There are also other people with the source. If a company really needs to see the windows sorce, they could probably place a corporate spy into M$ to get it.
  • by ProtonMotiveForce ( 267027 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @07:54PM (#4876249)
    Universities and many other entities alredy have much of Windows source code.

    It's not like you can go download it or Joe Schmoe can get it for any old reason, but it is (and has been) available under special circumstances.

    This is not new, or news.
    • Universities and many other entities alredy have much of Windows source code...

      "Much" is worth absolutely nothing from a security perspective. You must have all of it, including the compiler, then compile the compiler with an independent "trusted" compiler (e.g. gcc). Then you recompile all the system software and apps and make sure they match, bit for bit, the shipped product. That's the only way you can verify that they've actually given you the real source.

      Hopefully India will insist on at least this, otherwise it's worthless.

    • Agreed (Score:2, Interesting)

      Check out the TechNet subscription program, available from Microsoft if you're interested in seeing MS code. TechNet and the Development Library are available to Universities, and you can access alot of code there. One has to sort of piece it together, however.

      One thing to remember about MS source code is that it's not necessarily all in C/C++ or some other such language which one expects to 'compile.' Much of it is in Microsoft speak, as it were. Think of it as a meta language, which operates at a social organization level... which is basically what an operating system is, and is what they sell. If you havn't seen Microsoft code, alot of it is written in 'English' in a similar way to how Cobol is writtin in 'English'.

      I digress (and run the risk of upsetting somebody) so I'll get back to the issue at hand. Yes, Universities and other entities get Windows source code.
  • by JJAnon ( 180699 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @07:56PM (#4876266)
    so here's the text of the article...

    MS to share Windows code with India

    Microsoft is virtually doing the unthinkable in India -- it is planning to share the Windows source code. Not with one and all, as Linux does, but with a specific government body which, in turn, will share it with others for the purposes of e-governance and education.

    Microsoft has already made a proposal to the ministry of information technology for sharing the Windows source code with one government body. The nature of the body has not been spelt out; it will presumably be worked out after discussions between the company and the government officials. Interestingly, the offer comes at a time when state governments are showing interest in rival Linux operating system as the latter's source code is free and downloadable from the internet.

    When contacted by ET, Microsoft India president Rajiv Nair was somewhat cagey. Although he didn't deny the move, he merely said, "We are evaluating the idea (of sharing the source code)." However, sources in the company said that MS is already in talks with the government to work out the modalities of sharing the source code. It's learnt that MS worldwide program manager for shared source program, Jason Matusow, was recently in India to work out the modalities.

    Microsoft is exceedingly secretive about its Windows source code -- the company has so far shared it with only a few big clients and developers. In Asia. MS has shared the Windows source code with select clients in Japan, Korea and Singapore. What appears to have persuaded it to extend the same privilege to the Indian government is the growing attraction here for the Linux OS, which is seen by some state governments as a cheaper alternative to Windows.

    Microsoft officials are, of course, playing down the Linux threat. They insisted that Linux wasn't a big issue while selling to the governments in India. Says Peter Hayes, industry vice-president, Microsoft Government: "OS software is merely 1-3% of the total cost of an IT project, and studies have shown that total cost can be lower with Microsoft technologies compared to Linux." The open source software has been grabbing headlines recently as the debate on open versus proprietary software has gained momentum in government circles here.

    Says MS boss for shared source program, Jason Matusow, "There has been a lot of hype about open source code in the software industry as well as in the media. Linux might grab headlines, but being able to look at source code doesn't bring any benefits to an average end-user, though it might increase the trust level."

    The basic idea behind open source is very simple. When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. While open source community believes that this process produces better software than the traditional closed model, proponents of proprietary software argue that this model can't work in the commercial world.
  • Microsoft should (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nuckin futs ( 574289 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @07:56PM (#4876273)
    They should consider helping their own people first.
    How about sharing that source code with the US federal government and all the other state governments it has pending cases with.
  • by Eric_Cartman_South_P ( 594330 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @07:57PM (#4876276)
    Show no sources, and MS displays how closed and untrusting they are. Show the sources, and India (along with IRC and Kazaa 60 seconds later) will see the horrific code.

    • Show the sources, and India (along with IRC and Kazaa 60 seconds later) will see the horrific code.

      All too true probably. However, I was thinking about the hundreds of worms and DOS attacks that will happen within days, probably clogging the internet to a standstill. Thanks Microsoft...

    • by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:09PM (#4876388) Homepage Journal
      And anyone who wants anything from MicroSoft will seriously consider switching to Linux. Are you paying too much and getting too little with your Windows installation? Just download Linux and put it on a single old PC, and put it in your CEO's office. In a few weeks, MicroSoft will solve all of your problems. Having problems with the BSA? Just offer to replace all of your unlicensed software with the open-source alternatives you've found. That'll shut them up.

      Remember, if you keep all of your data in portable formats, Windows costs half as much.
  • scared.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by deego ( 587575 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:01PM (#4876313)
    i would be scared of seeing windows code even if they showed it to me.

    Whatever open source stuff i program later and if it ever becomes important, M$ would sure would sue me for "stealing".
    • Re:scared.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )
      As I said before, please read this before jerking the knee: er sity/NTSrcLicInfo.aspx

      This may be the first time they've done this with a government, but it isn't the first time they've liscenced out their source.
  • by dh003i ( 203189 ) <> on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:01PM (#4876314) Homepage Journal
    Don't fall for that MS crap-trap. They might give you the source, but with a shit-load of draconian circumstances and catches that will make it unuseable.

    Even if they do give India the source, it'll only be temporary -- for now, to prevent them from switching to Linux. Once India is dependant on MS, it'll be no more source and no more cheap-deals for them.
  • That's EXACTLY why (Score:2, Interesting)

    by inerte ( 452992 )
    It's important to use the "free software" expression instead of "open source".
  • by BuhSnarf ( 633686 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:01PM (#4876318) Homepage
    ... it could be Windows 3.11 that they're gonna release the source for.
  • Says MS boss for shared source program, Jason Matusow, "There has been a lot of hype about open source code in the software industry as well as in the media. Linux might grab headlines, but being able to look at source code doesn't bring any benefits to an average end-user, though it might increase the trust level."
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the benefits of open source the fact that DEVELOPERS can make FIXES that benefit the average end-user? Is this not one of the reasons WHY it increases trust?

    I would not be surprised one bit if M$ follows this tactic with India and any other large industrialized nation seeking a computer implementation that isn't already under their control. It makes those countries think that they are being helped by a corporation that is only doing it to gain marketshare.

  • Tainted code (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serps ( 517783 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:01PM (#4876320) Homepage

    So, Microsoft is offering show the Windows source to India, potentially tainting a 15% of the world's population with their intellectual property?

    I can't think of a better way to manufacture thousands of Windows developers while at the same time denying Open Source access to a billion people.

  • Microsoft shares code with the US government as well as some research institutions. It's not like M$s code is super-secret or anything, it's just that they don't want anybody to be able to see how it works for whatever reason.

    I'm sure if you put enough money on the table M$ would let you look at the code. And I'm sure M$ sees a lot of money in getting it's hooks in india's growing IT world.
  • by dlasley ( 221447 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:03PM (#4876327) Homepage
    ... they aren't willing to share source code in the U.S. for "security" reasons, but they are willing to pass on the source code to a country in the midst of a volatile conflict with a growing nuclear weapons program ...

    and so now it's friday the 13th per GMT. maybe this is a fitting time to run the story ...
  • I just wonder... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by edashofy ( 265252 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:03PM (#4876335)
    Why has the Windows Source Code, arguably the most valuable piece of source code in history, never been leaked? Certainly, as others have said, people have it. Or parts of it. The distribution methods are out there (Gnutella, Freenet, Overseas servers). Once this genie gets out of the bottle, it couldn't ever be stoppered back in. So why has there been ten or fifteen years of Windows with no source leaks?

    I mean, if the atom bomb got out, which has only a fraction of the destructive power of Windows (just kidding), then why not Windows?

    Has it been:
    - People are too scared of Microsoft to do it, even with anonymizing technology?
    - Microsoft's security is just that good?
    - ???
    • I doubt anyone has access to 100% of the source. I am just guessing, but, you probably would only have access to the portion you are supposed to work on, it must consist of thousands of discreet elements, and if you leaked one they wouldn't have very many people to look at to figure out who had done it.
    • Re:I just wonder... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WhaDaYaKnow ( 563683 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @10:02PM (#4877191)
      Why has the Windows Source Code, arguably the most valuable piece of source code in history, never been leaked?

      I'll give you some answers. I won't go into details of me personally, which you hopefully understand after reading this but here's the few personal things I _will_ say:

      - I worked for M$
      - I was not a developer
      - I had full access to the source of a Windows version (it was not an NT/2K/XP variant, the source was available to everyone on the M$ network who knew where to find it)
      - this was several years ago, things have changed, no doubt

      Now, back to answering your question. First of all, some common sense answers:

      - because it would be illegal?
      - because they are not anti-M$?
      - because it doesn't occur to them that it would be a 'good thing' to do?

      I'll take your suggestions backwards:

      Microsoft's security is just that good?

      Obviously not.

      People are too scared of Microsoft to do it, even with anonymizing technology?

      Exactly, I think your question answered that already quite nicely when you said "arguably the most valuable piece of source code in history"

      with all that in mind someone would consider:
      - who would want to risk a reasonable career, for exactly what?
      - who knows if my access to the source is watermarked?
      - as someone suggested with the analogy of the Coke formula: is it really that unique that it's worth risking anything for? (believe me, it's not. In fact you CAN look at large pieces of M$ source, just go download a DDK)

      Now, from what I have seen, there _is_ some evidence that could have helped the DOJ case regarding the non-competitive stuff with DR-DOS which can be found in the source.

      This may have been a valid reason for someone to leak it, but the question is, would you trust the government or anyone enough to protect you so that you can continue the live that you want to have, after you did?

      Or even more importantly, should the government be able to get and find this information by it's own, legal, resources?

      I think it's a tough choice to risk an already way too short time as a productive developer to deal with lawsuits and what not.

      Just a few thoughts ;-)
      (I trust Rob to provide the "anonymizing technology")
  • I'm not at all clear why India would care at all about MicroSoft's source code. It would seem that MS's offer to show it amounts to nothing more than a perk in the deal -- a bite of forbiden fruit.

    India's hangups over making a deal with MS w/r/t their educational programs have much more to do with MS's rabid interest in dominating the hearts and minds of the next generation of computer users.

    As such, India should be asking to see MS's internal business model, not their source code...
  • by LegendOfLink ( 574790 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:05PM (#4876346) Homepage
    Today, Indian government officials examined the Microsoft Windows source code and realized that 99% of the code, when printed in landscape, formed an image that faintly represented a fat, sweaty, balding man screaming around a stage like a monkey.
  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:07PM (#4876375)
    I read this morning that IBM was offering some incentived to India to go Open Source instead of Closed Source( ala Microsoft ). []

    I think IBM realizes what's at stake here and is willing to put more $$ where it's mouth is. That's gotta piss Bill and Steve off.


  • by LINM ( 255706 ) <mbego00@gsb.c o l u m b i a . e du> on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:08PM (#4876377) Homepage
    We have been working on institutions in India and they are heavily leaning towards adopting Linux. Microsoft sales teams have been bending over backwards to prevent them from taking the plunge. The recent donations of funds as well as the offer to share the code all amount to last ditch attempts to keep Linux out.

    These are all for good reason. Not only will one massive lost market initate several others, but India also represents a leading software high-tech zone that Microsoft does not want to lose. Think of the number of Linux programmers that would be learning to work on a real platform in five year if the government does not 'sell out' to this US monopoly.

    I can't disclose really any more than this, but expect more concessions from the Redmond Giant before all is said and done. Hopefully India's Linux initiatives have not been just to facilitate dealing with M$.

    Microsoft's dike is springing many holes. Thiy might fill this one, but products like the one below will be taking serious bites out of MSFT in the coming months...

  • I wonder (Score:4, Interesting)

    by inode_buddha ( 576844 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:09PM (#4876389) Journal
    if this may be related somehow to this recent announcement [] regarding IBM's recent software initiatives in India. On a slightly related question, how would any of this relate to the recent rumors of both IBM and MS vying to purchase Rational and Borland? My take is this: IBM may be the number 2 software vendor, but as a company MS knows they could be choked on for breakfast in terms of sheer scale as reflected in US dollars. Upon reading about the recent sentiments in India, my vote goes with Big Blue.
  • by pesc ( 147035 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:19PM (#4876473)
    If you want to look at the source to ensure yourself that there is no NSA/CIA/M$ malware or trojans there, how do you know you are looking at the right thing? Will M$ actually let you USE the source and create your own certified Win distribution? Using your own trusted compiler?

    Don't think so.
  • by Psx29 ( 538840 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:20PM (#4876477)
    Unless microsoft plans on releasing the source code for every windows update patch as well, they will still be able to maintain as much control as they have always had (re: too much)
  • by ekrout ( 139379 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:21PM (#4876492) Journal
    /* Source Code Windows XP */
    #include "win31.h"
    #include "win95.h"
    #include "win98.h"
    #include "workst~1.h"
    #include "evenmore.h"
    #include "oldstuff.h"
    #include "billrulz.h"
    #include "monopoly.h"
    #include "backdoor.h"
    #define INSTALL = HARD
    char make_prog_look_big(16000000);
    void main()
    if (first_time_installation)
    } //if
    if (still_not_crashed)
    } // if
    } //while
    if (detect_cache())
    if (fast_cpu())
    } //if /* printf("Welcome to Windows 3.1"); */ /* printf("Welcome to Windows 3.11"); */ /* printf("Welcome to Windows 95"); */ /* printf("Welcome to Windows NT 3.0"); */ /* printf("Welcome to Windows 98"); */ /* printf("Welcome to Windows NT 4.0"); */
    printf("Welcome to Windows 2000");
    if (system_ok())
    system_memory = open("a:\swp0001.swp",O_CREATE);
    } // while
    } // main

    (Hehe. Code courtesy of this funny site [] and reproduced here for your enjoyment.)
  • Done before (Score:3, Interesting)

    by infolib ( 618234 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:41PM (#4876626)
    This possibility of "shared source" was one of Microsofts selling points in Denmark during the government-sponsored open source conference recently.

    It does help you check for backdoors, at least if you are allowed to compile, and can check the compiler too. []

    On the other hand, the terms will clearly not allow you to do anything that might actually threaten the Microsoft monopolization of critical infrastructure.
  • Astroturfers regularly assert that open source projects are less secure because there's security in obscurity. A lot of people would call that bullshit, but that's the argument.

    What are they going to say when it's not just industrial spies, but a whopping big subcontinent that can find holes to exploit by code review? And we still can't patch it ourselves?

    Ugh - frozen software, whose every flaw is there for the reader.

    The only plus I see here is that only very obfuscated MS trojans will surivive.
  • I'm sure that India already knew about the availability of Windows source code. But the fact is that Linux is free while Windows cost money, so there choice was obvious.
  • by n6zfx ( 533362 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:46PM (#4876657)
    Fwiw, (sorry I dont have an online reference), there was a very recent (like last week) article in the WSJ that went into detail about GatesCo's efforts to address uses of opensource. In fact, once instance was where the the Pentagon commisioned a research project on OpenSource (from Mitre) that basically concluded that open source is a good thing. MS came in and requested/demanded the conclusion be watered down. There have been other cases, such as india, where the govt decides to use open source apps for some educational project, then MS (unrelated of course) shows up the next day with big donation of "free" windows software, office, etc. How can a cash strapped gov't turn that down?

    "Hey kid, the first one is free."
  • India I hope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chunkwhite86 ( 593696 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @08:59PM (#4876762)
    India I hope has more sense than to buy into this obvious MS ploy. I'm not trying to sound like a typical anti-microsoft /.er, but this reeks of Microsoft's typical weasely business practice.

    What guarantee does India have that when Windows 2004 comes out, it won't be a total re-write of the code that Microsoft doesnt want to share? Then their investment in MS code today will be useless tomorrow. Not to mention the myriad of overbearing restrictions that MS is bound to place on the use of their code.

    If India wants to excel in the software development field, I think it's in their best interest to go with an Open solution e.g. Linux or some flavor of BSD. This is what will benefit them the most in the long run.
  • by GAlain ( 559435 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @09:09PM (#4876842)
    I am just wondering what are the proofs that the given source code is the very same one used to compile the binaries I can find in the stores?
    I mean, even at m$, nobody as a view at the entire source. What are the proofs that backdoors aren't added just after the programmers labs by NSA or even... Al-Quaida?
    And don't tell me Indian government will be allowed to compile their own versions for their whole staff!
    Maybe I'm paranoid, but NO, I don't trust m$...
  • by rufusdufus ( 450462 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @09:34PM (#4877014)
    There are 3 sources bases which can plausibly be called the windows source. The original source based which started with DOS and windows 1 and went on up to windows 95 and Windows Millenium. The 'portable windows' CE which is its own code base. And the NT code base which is the one people would want.

    It might make a lot of sense for MS to give out the source to the windows 95 codebase, as it is old and decrepit and would cost more to understand than to reimplement.

    Windows CE has a very small market and giving out the source base might be its last gasp.

  • by inquisitive ( 212340 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @09:47PM (#4877112) Homepage
    I am an Indian. I believe after a certain stage, there will be no stopping Linux (or *BSDs). The momentum for Linux is currently very weak, but is gathering speed every day. Why?

    - Sooner or later India will grow strong enough to challenge US. Then Windows will be viewed with the kind of suspicion that the Chinese/Europeans do now.

    - It is simply not attractive (market size) for MS to "Indianize" Windows, the way we Indians can do to Linux (eg All Native Languages, etc)

    - I already see a trend that very IT savvy Indians tend to dislike MS for various reasons (trustworthiness, price-gouging, ...)

    - Pride. With MS & its software, you can only do sweatshop style jobs. With Linux, we can turn our programmers into reputable contributors, recognised the world over.
  • by bilbobuggins ( 535860 ) <.bilbobuggins. .at.> on Thursday December 12, 2002 @09:50PM (#4877132)
    While open source community believes that this process produces better software than the traditional closed model, proponents of proprietary software argue that this model can't work in the commercial world.

    it doesn't matter as long as it works in the real world
    this is one place where i think capitalism really shines
    people won't stand for something ineffecient just because so and so would like to keep it that way so they can get rich, and the market will kill off companies that can't adapt as needed

  • Act of War? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Quickening ( 15069 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @09:54PM (#4877145) Homepage
    when Indian programmers start dying of laughter after reading windows source code?
  • SETI@India? (Score:5, Funny)

    by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @10:17PM (#4877260) Homepage Journal
    Quote from the article, emphasis mine:
    contacted by ET, Microsoft India president Rajiv Nair was somewhat cagey. Although he didn't deny the move, he merely said, "We are evaluating the idea."
    I guess giving the Windows source to aliens would confuse them enough to not want to invade Earth.

    #include ba_doom_ching.h

  • by solferino ( 100959 ) < minus painter> on Friday December 13, 2002 @03:30AM (#4878546) Homepage
    microsoft's biggest nightmare in six words

    India becomes a free software country

    why : free software's history has mostly been in the 'developed' world - here it is flourishing in spite of the fact that it is playing from a catch-up position

    in these countries most of the places where it makes sense to use computers are already doing so and have been for a while - and most of these are using proprietary society

    despite this, free software is making significant inroads

    now factor in the world's (soon to be) most populous country turning down the free software path much earlier in it's computerisation process than the countries it is following - moreover a country where english is (fairly widely) known and which has a culture possibly unrivalled in it's ability to deal with abstract thought (witness the highly sophisticated ancient vedic and dravidian cultures and the contemporary reputation of indian programmers)

    result : the free software movement - steady and stable and resolutely making progress gets a massive shot in the arm - india becomes an example to all other 'devloping countries' - the microsoft pyramid scheme starts to develop massive cracks in it's base

    free software in india - well worth while keeping a watching brief on
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Friday December 13, 2002 @06:13AM (#4879126) Journal
    I just ate. :-)
  • Legal Stuff (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ulysees ( 15761 ) on Friday December 13, 2002 @06:24AM (#4879154)
    Wonder how this affects any of the current cases against microsoft. If their argument that they can't disclose source in the interests of national security then how can they give it away to another nation which has the potential to be an unfriendly nuclear power ?
  • Yawn (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday December 13, 2002 @08:58AM (#4879758) Homepage
    And while we're all saying how it's great that can decide whether to go with Windows based on analysing the source, Microsoft passes sackfulls of bribes to key officials under the table. India is even more systematically corrupt than the USA. This is just a smokescreen.
  • My wife's cousin works in international development and started telling stroies around the table at T-day. She had recently been in India and had mentioned to a minister of such and such how generous Microsoft's recent gifts and investments in India were. He immediately replied, "But you will also notice that many in the government have suddenly dropped their support of Linux." Now she doesn't know much about computers but she immediately understood that this was a gigantic bribe.

    It would seem that this 'open source' move is an attempt to silence the remaining critics who say that access to the source is more important than the $$$ that MS is throwing at them.

    The sad thing is that this isn't comparable to having the Linux source. Very few will have access to it and those that do will only be able to look at it, rather than being able to modify the OS itself and redistribut it.

    Basically the only benefit you get is the ability to look for bugs and trojans to make sure that you aren't being spied on. That is certainly reasonable for a government to want to do, but it is only one of the many benefits of true 'open source'.

  • by Quixadhal ( 45024 ) on Friday December 13, 2002 @10:11AM (#4880088) Homepage Journal
    Ok, so Bill gets all friendly and hands you a big pile of code (CD's? Big reams of paper delivered by truck?)... I'm having a hard-time not seeing the scene from the South Park movie "Hey, relax guy!"

    Thing is, how can you be sure it's really the actual production windows source code? Sure it will probably compile and even run, but he could leave certain bits out and it would take YEARS to discover that fact if it's a subtle deficiency.

    No thanks, getting the source to Windows is like getting those low-interest rate checks from your credit card company. It sounds good on the surface, but when you really read it, you realize what a load it is....

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant