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Microsoft Opens Code Just Slightly More 370

ctar writes "This story on details Microsoft's new program to open the source to parts of Windows in order to compete with Linux, especially in the government sector. Microsoft's spokesman is making these announcements directly: They say governments involved will be invited to Redmond to meet w/ security engineers, and view testing procedures. Countries will also be able to incorporate their own encryption schemes 'based on Microsoft's software'."
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Microsoft Opens Code Just Slightly More

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    What's also interesting -- I don't know how many of you guys know about this -- but Microsoft has agreed to release parts of the Windows source code to the Indian Government. I think that story might have been posted on Slashdot a while back. Anyway, it seems interesting that Microsoft is loosening up some of their source code protection. It makes one wonder if this is for real or if they're just trying to create a preception that they're doing this to make a bunch of lawyers happy.

    Best 3D Animated Cursors For Windows Here! []
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Since this seems to be the trend, I'd first like to say I like the cursors too. I downloaded them a while back, saw them featured in a magazine. :-)

      Being a (former) employee at Microsoft, I know that there has been talks by developers to allow for some "shared code" development. I know there is real and legitimate interest in collaberating -- it only makes Microsoft products better. With that said, however, I can tell you from a management perspective they have been trying to create the image of more collaberation for years... only so they can steal new ideas and mark them as their own (why do you think I quit?). The developers are not to blame, we just did our jobs... the management is what pushes for these types of strategies. Although I think there is good reason to do what they're doing with Governments, I think the point remains that fact must be seperated from perception. I think you'll find both of it.. but in the longer run the latter will rule all.

    • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:38AM (#5086121) Journal
      Microsoft might not realize it yet, but it's only a matter of time before Windows sourcecode is Open (as in VMS - read only).

      Really, what have they got to lose? Windows is already pirated like crazy, and they arguably have a better core system than any of their competitors anyway. Why not counter Linus Hype with a litte Dave Cutler?

      They've already run through their shared source program with various universities and no dirty laundry leaked out. Having published source never hurt IBM or DEC. They should do it.
      • by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @04:14AM (#5086390) Homepage
        Uh, because most (probably close to 95%) of Microsoft's income is from exactly 2 programs -- Windows and Office. Microsoft gets about $40 for every copy of windows that comes preinstalled. They would have to be INSANE to give up that revinue stream. What can the open source community offer them that compares to that? Anyone who proposed such a thing would be fired so fast their ass would make skid marks across the M$ parking lot.
        • Uh, because most (probably close to 95%) of Microsoft's income is from exactly 2 programs

          Actually, those are the only 2 programs that earn money for Microsoft, all others (XBox, MSN, WinCE, mice, keyboards...) lose money for them.

          So they are even more dependent on Windows.

          • Actually, those are the only 2 programs that earn money for Microsoft, all others (XBox, MSN, WinCE, mice, keyboards...) lose money for them

            Do you have a (credible) source for that? Sure, Xbox is losing money, but that was the plan all along for the first few years, and MSN is probably losing money too, after all the original business plan didn't account for the Internet but was based on dialup and content, a la AOL or Compuserve.

            But what about SQL Server and Visual Studio? Are they really losing money on those too?
            • by technix4beos ( 471838 ) <> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:59AM (#5086940) Homepage Journal
              Here is the relevant link as reported by CNet:

              Here is Microsoft's SEC Filing:

              Quite easy to find:

              By the way, someone posted about Microsoft opening source code to India.. Slashdot had an earlier story here:

              Another slashdot article on the XBox losing money:

              Amazing what turns up when you do just a little bit of research. ;)

    • Don't be fooled by Western governments' announcements of plans to consider Linux. Windows still has all the Good Shit (proprietary software) governments need; Linux is still missing key components. The real point of announcing plans to move to Linux is to get concessions out of Microsoft. Better licensing terms, maybe, or perhaps they want their OWN backdoors in Windows to spy on their own citizens.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      i've said it before and i'll say it again: Microsoft Always Has Something Up Their Sleeves.

      and no, it isn't the latest debian distro...
    • by SgtChaireBourne ( 457691 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:45AM (#5086347) Homepage
      Exposing Microsoft's code to scrutiny may just put them out of business. Coders may take a look at it and say, "we can't do anything with this junk []."

      On the other hand, since those allowed access to the code probably had to sign the NDA-from-Hell, the schools, agencies, companies and individuals involved would probably be sued six ways from Sunday if they ever even though about touching competitor's code, specifically Linux. This risk, and a probably one based on past behaviour, could generate a rousing yawn similar to the original shared source announcement.

      Or it is possible that Microsoft trying to line up more victims for the Sendo treatment.

    • They would release the source and and make free, Win9x and a lot of people would stay with them. The downside would be that people would see how bad it is. They would still have their other versions to make money out of and they could "free" all software as it becomes obsolete.

      I am not advocating this idea as it would be bad for Linux but I do think it would be Microsoft's best move. I think that opening up some of the code does nothing except PR. The people at the mill will still see that it is not open and this makes no difference. They will be the ones that have a say (in any sensible company) and so this move will not make any real difference.
    • Okay, once the Indian government has seen the source code, so that they know the americans aren't using it to spy on them...

      How do they know the precompiled binary copy they get on CD is safe?
  • by The_Shadows ( 255371 ) <thelureofshadows@hotm a i l . c om> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:02AM (#5085971) Homepage
    Why does the government need the source? I mean seriously, it's not like knowing how MS wrote their version of solitaire is going to help much.....

    Sheesh. :)
    • Re:One Question (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ec|ipse ( 52 )
      I know your comment was meant to be funny but, I'm going to comment as if I didn't see the humour if you don't mind :)
      For one, the governments arn't as trusting with the OS as MS would like. That's why you hear stories that government agencies already have many systems or are looking have having many systems running linux which they can freely view and examine to determine how safe their data will be on their systems.
      By making this move, MS is hoping to prevent or stem the flow of government agencies from switching to linux and other OS's that MS doesn't control.
      • Re:One Question (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tony-A ( 29931 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @05:42AM (#5086541)
        The problem is that it's the source Microsoft wants me to see when Microsoft wants me to see it. The advantage of Open Source is that I get to look at whatever I want to look at, whenever I want to look at it, and for whatever lame/stupid/paranoid reason or lack of reason I choose.
        Now I don't really know what to look for, so if *I* don't see anything wrong, it doesn't mean all that much. But. There are people who do, and people who are paranoid, and people who will scream their heads off if there is *anything* suspicious, particularly anthing that *should* be there but isn't.
        What Microsoft is doing will help. A little. But there are too many ways that what I'm seeing is a *sanitized* version of the source, that I'd still be more than a little bit suspicious.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:15AM (#5086023)
      I know your comment was meant to be funny, but as a government employee I have to say that I'd like to see the source of sol.exe (Solitare). I think it's coded in a way that you CANNOT win twice in a row. And it seems to degrade as you play it more without stopping.

      I just want to know if this was on purpose or if the Windows may have started to not only develop intelligence but decide to gang up with my boss against me.

      • I agree. I believe that there is also a time based factor making it harder to win durring the day then in the evening. Games played in the mid afternoon seem to be the hardest to win.

        At least that has been my experience.
      • by Puu ( 596370 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @05:57AM (#5086570)
        And it seems to degrade as you play it more without stopping.

        Why, it's not just Solitaire. The entire Windows is coded that way.
    • Re:One Question (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anthony Boyd ( 242971 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @04:44AM (#5086437) Homepage
      Why does the government need the source?

      Because some governments believe that Microsoft is in bed with the US government. It doesn't help that a couple years ago, MS admitted there was a backdoor in Windows for some government agency. Anyone remember which one? The NSA, maybe? Anyway, if you're the leader of a NON-US country, do you want the US government peeking in at your citizens and possibly your government officials? I suspect those other countries want to not only see the code, but to compile it, because you trust no one else to leave the code untouched.

  • This is a step in the right direction for Microsoft. I really hate MS just as much as the next guy, but openness is almost always better. Given, this code opening is a far cry from what we would consider "open," but its still an improvement and will most likely encourage MS to improve their products.
    • Except of course, there is no path yet for the unwashed masses to submit patches to FIX the bugs we find.

      Folks have a hard enough time getting M$ to act on the bugs that we find naturally. I can't imagine they are going to be any faster about testing community developed patches, even if the appropriate mechanisms are in place.

  • completely useless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mosch ( 204 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:07AM (#5085985) Homepage
    I've got to say, this is a completely useless, feelgood program. Clearly they just don't "get it". They don't understand that while seeing some testing procedures is all lovely and well, it's no substitute for letting a third party actually examine the code, or better yet, thousands of third parties.

    I think this move was so obvious though, that even the PHBs will understand it's nothing more than window dressing.

    • by motox ( 312416 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:31AM (#5086105) Homepage
      However, i think governments will be happy enough to have access to the code. It's not vital that John Doe 1st year computer science student has access to the source. But a government wanting to deploy windows can actually audit the code, and eventually put customized spyware for better control of their citizens. I think microsoft gets it , they get it a lot. Very few people chooses windows. It comes with their PC. Soon it will come with your government too ;)
    • by SDPlaya ( 527737 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:10AM (#5086233)
      Actually this is closer to what the gov't wants than you may think. They really don't want everyone seeing their code. They want to be able to audit it, and frankly they'd prefer you didn't have access to it.

      MS is giving them the part of open source they desire, while at the same time keeping the part of open source away that they don't.
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:09AM (#5085999) Homepage Journal
    Those are two very diffrent things. I doubt M$ is going let you redistribute your code. And microsoft lets people view the source to quite a few of their products (like winCE) so this isn't that new.
    • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:19AM (#5086048) Homepage Journal
      Ten countries or agencies including Russia and NATO have already signed agreements, and Microsoft said it's in discussions with 20 more about the new program. Sixty countries and agencies are eligible for the new Government Security Program, compared with the 32 that were offered access to the code under the previous plan.

      How many contracts we had to sign to use linux, apache, mysql and php on our webservers. 0.
      You can never underestimate the stupidity of the general public. - Scott Adams (1957 - ), The Dilbert Future
  • by Toe, The ( 545098 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:10AM (#5086000)
    MS has occasionally pushed for some sort of net-based authentication to control access to licenses. They've gone draconian enough to shut down XP if you couldn't pony up an install CD, right?

    Now let's just go paranoid for a minute and imagine a world where Windows can shut itself down on remote command from Microsoft (just checking the license, right?). Or from a hacker posing as Microsoft.

    Could Microsoft or a hacker just shut down most of the governments of the world with a keystroke?

    "Gee boss, all of our computers just keep flashing some message about calling Microsoft sales.... Wait, who's in charge? Oh no! That's in the computer too!"

    Is that why the U.S. military uses so many Macs? ;-)

    • Fuck with us and we'll crash all your... oh wait, that feature wasn't implemented.

      Fuck with us and... whoops, looks like that has a bug.

      Fuck with Microsoft and we'll reroute your... oh waity; nobody knows how to execute that one.

      Well, if you dare fuck with Microsoft, then we'll develop a program that will make all your hard drives spin until they melt! Um... expect a public beta in the next 6-9 months.
    • I doubt they can do it intentionally, but their crappy source code control combined with poor coding lets worms, e-mail viruses, and trojans render tens of thousands of servers useless at times.

      Throw that glorified program loader crap in the dumpster and get a real OS on your system.
    • Don't think Microsoft controls the government. No sir, they are whipped by it.

      Think of Microsoft like the guy who owns the Italian restaurant where the Mafiosos like to hang out. He gives them food, they give 'protection'. It looks like (to the outsider)he is on their side, maybe even has their ear. But in point of fact he is scared shitless and kissing up to them out of fear. Maybe he has managed to benefit from this arrangement, but it certainly wasnt his idea.

      The goverment is run by a bunch of thugs with guns and bombs. Microsoft is a bunch of geeks on computers. Don't confuse 'em.
  • by $$$$$exyGal ( 638164 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:10AM (#5086003) Homepage Journal
    If owning the Microsoft source code is illegal, then only criminals will have the Microsoft source code.

    In this case, the criminals are all the world governments, and all the hackers and spies that can get a hold of the source code. So now the U.S. government will be able to crack into Chinese government computers, and the Chinese will be able to crack into U.S. government computers, and hackers will be able to crack into everyone's computers. Meanwhile, little ol' you and me will just have to leave our MS-Windows boxes wide open for all the bad people to crack.

    --sexy gal []

  • by irabinovitch ( 614425 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:11AM (#5086009) Homepage
    Im sure someone will get some use out of this, but source code wont do much good unless you can make modification. I mean maybe you can get a better grasp on how some of their stuff works, but the real advantage to open source is that anyone can change it and add to it.
    • but the real advantage to open source is that anyone can change it and add to it
      Although nobody ever actually does. Seriously, I'm not trolling here, but I am a fairly decent C programmer, and I have never once changed a line of code in my Linux kernel. Now, on the other hand, I'm an engineer, so there is something comforting about knowing that I can if I felt inclined to, and maybe someday I will, not because I think it will make it better, but because it is an engineer's sworn duty to tinker with everything until it is broken, but for the most part, I think this is exaggerated as one of the primary benefits of Linux. I'd bet that not even one in ten users has so much as looked at a line of code in the kernel (incidentally, I have at least done that much).
  • Please oh please lets get all foreign gov'ts to give there encryption keys to microsoft. Then they will truly run the world.
  • come to my place (Score:2, Informative)

    by silne ( 634843 )

    As an "official" beta tester for Office 11 beta, they can come to my place and see what I do with it. (not much)

    Seriously though, how come I can't get an invitation to Redmond to see their testing procedures? Maybe cuz I have half a clue what they're supposed to be doing.

    And when is this source going to be made available on the internet? Will it be compilable? Can I actually use it to optimise my PC for the hardware it's running?

    Somehow I doubt it, and that's why I haven't booted windows in over a week. Runs like a one-legged dog cuz I don't have a p4 3.04gig with hyperthreading.
  • by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:14AM (#5086019) Homepage
    While I would personally love to see some of the Windows code (I'd kill for a peek at the COM+ marshaling engine) I can't see how this is going to help anyone. it's not like you can find a bug and recompile the kernel, and I've always had a bit of reservation against providing Microsoft with solutions to problems in their own products. The MTS/IIS4 timeframe left me pretty much soured on that whole thing.

    Still, if they're going to open up stuff I'd say let me look at IIS, MSMQ, WMI, COM+ and all that other middleware that I tend to hit a lot more... looking at the kernel would be an educational trip - but only that. Not really useful per se.

  • Not like MS letting the govornment view some of the source is benificial to them anyhow. You forgot to account for the fact that MS will more than likely make them sign a NDA. and all the souce code is propitary anyhow. No body else may use it in any form without explicit premission from MS. If this were the not case, WINE would be able to run every Windows program seamlessly, but as of now, it needs configuing for every program you wish to run on it. Not really news, more like this:

    You: "My neighbor just got a new car."
    Your friend: "does he let you drive it?"
    You: No, but atleast I get to look at it."
    Your friend: "who cares then?"
    You: "Good point."
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You: Me neighbor just got married to a hot babe."
      Your friend: "Does he let you....."
      You: "Hell yeah. He thinks GPL is great!"
  • Does this mean they're going to show the curly brackets ?

    I guess any more and you're looking at claims of IP infringement by other companies. *sigh*
  • "open" source (Score:2, Insightful) order to compete with Linux

    i fail to see how microsoft's pseudo-open source campaigns compete with the real openness of linux. what microsoft is doing is almost like taking a prisoner out of prison, chaining him to the ground outside, and telling him he's free.

    its been said a million times, but maybe microsoft should concentrate on improving their software, since that's the only way they can actually compete with linux.

  • Open? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Guido69 ( 513067 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:19AM (#5086049) Homepage
    "Ten countries or agencies including Russia and NATO have already signed agreements..." (emphasis mine)

    Signed agreements? Is this really open? I don't remember signing anything before being able to look at RedHat source...
  • How arrogant (Score:4, Interesting)

    by core plexus ( 599119 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:20AM (#5086051) Homepage
    Man, that is some arrogance: "They say governments involved will be invited to Redmond to meet w/ security engineers, and view testing procedures. Countries will also be able to incorporate their own encryption schemes 'based on Microsoft's software'."

    So, Microsoft need not be bothered going to your country, just send some folks round and we'll give them the hundred ruble tour. When it's over you can use our software, " to help governments and agencies such as Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization improve computer security". How, by installing Linux?

    Best part is that Microsoft is feeling the heat, which must be, by the laws of thermodynamics, a good thing for Linux. And maybe even for Microsoft users.

    Fight with computer brings SWAT team []

  • M$ seems to not understand that viewing the source is only one third of the Open Source equation. The other half is being able to modify the code, and distribute those modifications.

    Linux would be some grad student's pet project were it not for the fact that Linus opened the code for discussion, so to speak. Many of the early ideas for the Linux kernel were inspired by the Minux operating system, published in book form by Andrew S. Tanenbaum. The source code was there for Minux, published and documented. I have a copy myself from my days as a computer engineering student.

    Why don't we use the Minux kernel? Well for starters, Tanenbaum (at least at the time) was a bit of a minimalist. His goal was to create a toy operating system to teach operating system design with. He didn't want to hear about adding drivers or alternate file systems. And for every good reason, you have to master walking before running, let alone flight.

    Enter Linus. He develops a new kernel, but instead of publish it in book form, he released it on a newsgroup and asked for suggestions on how to improve it. The rest is history, or at least in the CVS logs.

    • > M$ seems to not understand that viewing the source is only one third of the Open Source equation.

      Hell, they still don't fully 'get' the internet. Why should we expect them to grok OSS?

    • by MalleusEBHC ( 597600 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:04AM (#5086210)
      M$ seems to not understand that viewing the source is only one third of the Open Source equation. The other half is being able to modify the code, and distribute those modifications.

      Judging by your math, I'm going to say you are related to Yogi Berra somehow. ;)

      (For the humor impaired, yes I realized what he intended to say.)
    • viewing the source is only one third of the Open Source equation. The other half is being able to modify the code, and distribute those modifications.

      I think you left out 1/6th....
    • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @04:16AM (#5086392)
      M$ seems to not understand that viewing the source is only one third of the Open Source equation. The other half is being able to modify the code, and distribute those modifications.

      No, they understand that perfectly well. However, why on Earth would they want to let people distribute modified versions of their software?

      Microsoft makes money by selling software. If they let people distribute even unmodified copies, they'd make less money.

      People, especially governments and large organisations, have started publicly saying "Hey, Linux is free, and you get to see the source code; maybe we should switch?". In answer to this, Microsoft has said "Well, you know, we can't do free, but our products represent extremely good value, and interoperate and integrate much better than Linux and its applications; how about we let you see some of our source, would that make you happy? Just sign here..."

      Soon enough, those orgs that have the source will start making noises about making modifications, strictly for their own use. Maybe Microsoft will say okay, maybe not. I doubt very much that we'll ever see the day when they say "Oh, and of course you can give it away to other people!". It's just not the way they do business.
      • by boots@work ( 17305 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:34AM (#5086748)
        I don't know how many people care about just seeing source code, under glass as it were. People and companies tend to be interested in free software either for the sake of freedom, or because it's free, or because they can take it and make something better. Being charged for look-don't-touch doesn't really satisfy any of those desires.

        I suppose people wanting to do security audits might care, but really the number of organizations in the world with the budget to seriously audit Windows can be counted on your fingers. I think even most government bodies apart from the spooks wouldn't care much -- after all, they're all using Outlook now despite the known problems. Auditing isn't going to tell them anything new.

        I suppose it might be helpful in debugging problems in interaction with Windows. You can imagine device vendors wanting more access than they have at the moment. But I suspect the NDAs will be pretty restricted. Debugging Samba interoperability is probably right out.

        We're in the early stages of Microsoft's stumblings towards respecting the freedom of their customers. When democracy won out in eastern Europe the countries weren't destroyed outright, but rather they came around to a different way of working. (Imperfect analogy, but humor me.) Satisfying as it might be to imagine Microsoft bankrupt, a more likely optimistic outcome is that in a few years they'll be a semi-open-source company, along the lines of Sun or IBM.
  • Warning, developers! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:27AM (#5086084)
    If you ever want to work on any open source project that might be in an area where MS has a similar product (which covers just about everything), DO NOT look at any MS source code. Before you can look at their code, you have to enter into a license agreemnt or a contract of some kind with them. I haven't seen this agreement, but you can be sure it contains lots of provisions defining everything in the source code as trade secrets, with all kinds of provisions for enforcing it, and all kinds of waivers of the non-MS person's rights. Being under such an agreement would mean that it might be legally risk for an open source project to use you or your work. So, don't agree to that and don't look at their code. This whole MS "shared source" is a Trojan horse, I believe.
  • by solferino ( 100959 ) <hazchem&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:29AM (#5086092) Homepage
    i'd just been reading coverage on apple's new safari browser and thinking how it was a significant 'hit' against microsoft internet explorer strategies as the boost given to 'the other' free software rendering engine (khtml) has now made complying to web-standards that much more important

    wondering how this release was impacting microsoft's share price i went over to yahoo finance and was bemused to see that it was slightly up - and then noticed the links to news stories lower on the page detailing microsofts announcement

    i can't help wonder if the announcement was timed to take some attention away from the extremely significant move by apple to move it's sizable number of users from a proprietary based browser to one at least based upon a free software engine
    - microsoft must have worked out what was in the works some time ago (the project has been a year in dev) and macworld would be the obvious announcement time

    i'll let others analyse and discuss the significance of this move by microsoft - and by the way i agree with those who contend that microsoft is not 'the enemy' and that as longer as we keep true to our values and keep doing what we have been doing all will continue to be well in free software land, and ripples from the movement will continue to spread through the software world from our activity whether we plan to make a splash or not

    - but watching microsoft sure is great soap opera :)

    p.s. i have been using the term 'free software' in the above post but am unsure of the exact license that khtml is under (i searched and couldn't find the info) - anyone who knows?
    • p.s. i have been using the term 'free software' in the above post but am unsure of the exact license that khtml is under

      Even if it's the APSL, it will still be Free Software, because it adheres to the four requirements of Free Software. Now before people start grabbing their feathers and hot tar, go read those four requirements, read the APSL, then tell me which one of them the APSL fails.

      • well i wasn't wondering so much about what license safari is being released under, but what license khtml (the rendering engine now used by apple in their new browser, but initially developed and still actively developed for konqueror, the kde browser) is under - i went to the kdevelop website but couldn't find the answer, hence my open question on slashdot

        to be more explicit, is khtml licensed under the gpl, lgpl or some other license which the free software foundation agrees is fully free, or is it licensed under some other 'open source' license?

        i am not wanting to reignite a flamewar between these two philosophies, but i am curious and also would like to know so as to use the proper term when referring to the software

        now with regard to the apsl, the fsf has a detailed page []regarding the history of problems with the apsl (which has been covered on /. before)

        the page details how flaws in the original version of the license (apsl 1.0) that were pointed out by the fsf have been fixed apart from one final one which is this aspect of the license :

        Central control : Anyone who releases (or even uses, other than for R&D) a modified version is required to notify one specific organization, which happens to be Apple.

        • to be more explicit, is khtml licensed under the gpl, lgpl or some other license which the free software foundation agrees is fully free

          Unpacking the source to double check... LGPL, as are most components of kdelibs.
    • KHTML is a big part of Konqueror, KDE's most important filemanager/webbrowser and this program is released under the GPL (as is all of the KDE project).

      More info see the Konqueror [] website.
    • i can't help wonder if the announcement was timed to take some attention away from the extremely significant move by apple to move it's sizable number of users from a proprietary based browser to one at least based upon a free software engine

      I think you're paranoid. Apple is no threat whatsoever to Microsoft, OK? They are "opening" up their code because their customers are telling them that this is an advantage of Linux, and Microsoft have woken up and are trying to compete. Their own internal memos say this.

      I'm sure Microsoft knew full well that most Mac users were already on Chimera anyway, and the IE for the Mac was a failure. They don't seem too concerned. As for "sizable number of users", I'd like to see the statistics for that. The installed user base of MacOS X seems to vary wildly depending on who you ask, but the actual big statistics companies (who get paid to compile figures as accurate as they can make them, usually) say that it's either behind or roughly equal to Linux on the desktop, which seems reasonable seeing as the latter is free and works on PCs, but the first is a better desktop OS at the moment.

      I can't remember Microsoft ever taking defensive moves against Apple, least of all now. And FYI using an open source rendering engine doesn't make Safari open source itself, so really nothing much has changed, I'm sure they're actually more concerned about Mozilla as that's the only browser that really competes with IE in any real terms.

      p.s. i have been using the term 'free software' in the above post but am unsure of the exact license that khtml is under (i searched and couldn't find the info) - anyone who knows?

      It's under the LGPL, which is why Apple had to contribute their changes back when they started redistributing them (in the form of a patch dump unfortunately) but they don't have to make Safari free software.

  • by gnujoshua ( 540710 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:31AM (#5086104) Homepage
    I think this is a good reason why the term "Open Source" can be extremely misleading. Next thing you know, we will have an "open source" version of windows 2004---however, the license agreement restricts anyone from incorporating their source code into non-microsoft programs, and they will sue anyone who tries to. However, they can go ahead and call their software "open source," because they are making the source code available to the public.
    This is damaging! We must not group together "free software" programs with "open source" ones, for this very reason! The more we call "Linux" Open Source, the more we will be giving Microsoft free advertising for their "open source" programs that will surely be coming out in the future. Please call GPL'd and GPL compatible software "free" or "Libre" in the least, so that we can make clear distinctions between "open source" and the freedom that come's with GPL-like programs. Thank you.

    For a more clearly articulated argument see: eedom.html
    • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:11AM (#5086236) Homepage Journal
      I think this is a good reason why the term "Open Source" can be extremely misleading. Next thing you know, we will have an "open source" version of windows 2004

      I think this is a good reason why the term "free software" can be extremely misleading. Next then you know, we will have a "free software" version of Internet Explorer.

      p.s. The above is an example of sarcasm. If you are a regular Slashdot reader, the concept may be unfamiliar to you. I suggest a dictionary.

      p.p.s. Speaking of dictionaries, look up "free" while you're at it.

      p.p.p.s. Funny isn't it how offers thousands of "free software" downloads of proprietary shareware?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Well, we still have libre!

        What do you mean that word conjures up images of crazy South American revolutionaries?

        Here's an idea. GPL'd software. BSD'd software. (BSoD'd software? Nah.) Insert-License-Here'd software.

        Simple, not confusing, and with no ill tones due to word choice.
  • by grunby ( 90338 ) <> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:36AM (#5086117) Homepage Journal
    Found here []. Governments will be able to see some source to 2000, XP, .net, and CE.

    tar zxvf win32xp-i386.tar.gz
    cd win32xp
    ./configure --prefix=/opt/windows
    make install

    - grunby
  • by Milo77 ( 534025 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:40AM (#5086129)
    The reason many people think open source software should be used in gov't is so contractors can't sell closed sourced solutions to the gov't that would require the gov't to go back to the original contractor everytime a change is needed. In other words, it is more cost-effective from the tax payer's point of view. If the code modifications can be made in house or there is a lower bidder this is better for the taxpayer (cost wise). Nothing MS will ever do will allow a gov't to do this. They may let you "see" some of the code and perhaps allow for encryption plugins (or what have you), but they'll never provide a license that says "this code is yours, feel free to make your own modifications."
    • I don't know about that. I could easily see Microsoft being willing to sell a perpetual license. They might not even charge much more for it. How much skin is it off their back if the government has the right to make a few modifications here and there to the code? It probably wouldn't have that much impact on upgrades, and might very well boost sales. Its not like the government is going to take on a project like a full OS upgrade.

    • Once I compared free to closed source software to the difference between marriage and protitution. A man choses a whore at random, has no trust of it, has no responsibiltity for it and might just be done in by it. A man choses a wife on merrit and must do all in his power to engener trust and mutual development. A normal man is happy to share his wife socially and sees that reasonable contact with the world does both of them good. This case, however, makes me think that prostition is too good a thing to compare with closed source software, it's more like a spank mag.

      This little peek does about as much good for the parties concerned as porn. Those governments can fantisize over what little M$ lets them see, but they have no more an idea of what they are looking at than they have ownership or control of it. Quality, of course, suffers. In the microsoft case, quality suffers intentionally.

      Cost issues are secondary, but it should be obvious that costs are extreem for closed source software as M$ rakes in more money each year and has a larger budget than many countries do.

  • Linux/OS Effect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hasie ( 316698 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:41AM (#5086134)
    Even if Linux and the rest of Open Source disappear tomorrow, they will have left their mark on the world. Even the mighty Microsoft, one of the largest and most powerful companies in the world, is feeling the pressure. This can only lead to good things.

    Yes, this arrangement does not go as far as most of use would like, but it is a step in the right direction. And more importantly, it is a step that would never have happened without Open Source.

    Hats off to Stallman for starting the dream and everyone who has supported it.

  • by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:43AM (#5086141)
    ...anyone drinking the water that is placed on the tables in the conference rooms should know that it will take 9 to 12 months for the effects of the spiking to wear off :)

    By that time, contracts will have been signed and monies moved about according to MS's will.
  • Bloomberg says it's just a chance to "look" at the code, by visiting Redmond perhaps. But reports that MS will let governments build their own versions (doesn't say whether by MS or by themselves).

    Which is it? There's a big difference there. And is it access to ALL the code, or just the security-related bits?
  • by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:46AM (#5086154)
    Sorry, but that won't do. It's fine for governments to buy products where they can switch vendors fairly easily. It's also fine for governments to use software that's open source.

    But when governments start using Windows, they are tied to the business decisions and future of a single company: they can't buy any substitutes and the license doesn't permit them to hire others to modify the code and redistribute the modifications. Even if Microsoft published the complete source code on the Internet, customers would still be completely at the mercy of Microsoft's business decisions because of the license. Incidentally, it's not just Microsoft: Sun is trying to navigate itself into the same position with Java, because, ultimately, all usable Java2 implementations have large chunks of code licensed from them.

    Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the only systems governments should rely on are systems with open, non-proprietary standards. They don't have to be open source if there are multiple, reasonably interchangeable implementations. If they are open source, even better. Becoming dependent on a single vendor for anything is bad enough for a business, but for a government, it is really dangerous.

  • by hayden ( 9724 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:49AM (#5086164)
    They show governments the source to their cryptographic functions. Suits go "It must be secure then." People beaten with the clue bat reply "Well, in a word. No."

    Unless they show them everything then it's completely pointless. Sure the data is properly encrypted by the function but the data and the key has to get to the function first.

    And even with the code they can't be sure that it still isn't backdoored. It's the same as the login/compiler trojan that was in unix for years (somebody karma whore for a link, I can't be bothered).

    • by Zordak ( 123132 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:31AM (#5086299) Homepage Journal
      OT, but your .sig made me think of something that occurred to me recently. It was stupid of Darth Sidious to clone an obviously incompetent adult to make Storm Troopers and them arm them with blasters they were ill-equipped to handle. As the parent of a 2 year old, I posit that a massive army of toddlers armed with Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Pancake Syrup and Magic Markers would be a force that would rival Nature herself in pure destructive power. It would have taken this terrible, unholy army approximately ten minutes to dismantle the entire fleet of ships that Storm Troopers were trying to blast apart in AoTC. Most of the ships, operating under crippled, gummed-up guidance systems that have been reprogrammed to point to the nearest black hole, with controls that stick in all the wrong places, and terminals impossible to read for all of the random black markings, would simply crash into each other, with the captains of said ships welcoming the sweet deliverance of death. The rest would get hopelessly lost in the depths of space, and by the time anyone found them, the crews would be incurably mad.

      In case you are wondering, yes, having a two year old is occasionally associated with sleep deprivation. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Microsoft bashing.

    • Found here []. Although this might not be what you were talking about. Its a speech done by Ken Thompson and it was about theoreticaly trojaning all software by trojaning the compiler. As far as I recall this was never actually used or anything. Now that I think of it though, I think I do recall something about login being trojanned. Nope its in that paper (check google and the 2nd link was to it).
  • What M$ Needs To Do (Score:3, Informative)

    by E-Rock-23 ( 470500 ) <lostprophyt@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:56AM (#5086187) Homepage Journal
    Opening a little bit of source code up isn't really enough to be able to compete with Linux. One of the biggest problems facing Micro$oft, should Linux catch on in the mainstream, is it's price. Go to any Wal-Mart or Electronics Boutique, anywhere where they sell Windows XP and any Linux Distro side by side (or at least on the same rack/stand). Windows XP Home Edition, ~$150. Mandrake Linux, ~$30. Now, to the money concious computer user, which do you think they'll choose?

    The fact of the matter is that M$ could turn a hefty profit even if they sold Windows for $50. They just want to take the consumer for whatever they can, adding to their already insanely high cash surplus (which stands at around $40 billion). That's just not right. And even if they did start selling Windows el cheap-o, they still have to deal with the fact that Linux Distros are available to broadband users (or 56K users with alot of patience) on the net for free. Yeah, sure, you don't get the manual, but that same information is available online from any number of sources.

    Opening a little bit of source is a nice gesture by M$, but that's about all it amounts to. With foreign governments, universities, and even single users discovering and going with the Open Source solution, they need to do a heck of alot more to even begin thinking about the possibility of maybe, just maybe, competing with the Open Source community.
  • Snazzy (Score:5, Funny)

    by houseofmore ( 313324 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:57AM (#5086190) Homepage
    "Countries will also be able to incorporate their own encryption schemes 'based on Microsoft's software'."

    I'm sure governments around the world will breath a sigh of relief once their networks have been secured by MS Wallet(tm).
  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:08AM (#5086221) Homepage
    We used to have at Bell Labs in the late 1980's. If we ever wanted to put one of our competitors out of business, we would send them a copy of the 5ESS source code. They would go bankrupt trying to analyze it.
  • Is this:

    Another marketing stunt?

    Due to a fear that they may lose good chunk of revenue? This, of course is caused by bargening game that various governments play using Linux as an opt-out option.

    Sencere Microsoft wish to provide much better service to, at least, their most profitable clients?

    My thinking revolves around the second option but same old stupid remarks about competing with completely open platform by opening parts of the code tend to drag me toward the first one.

    I am not sure why did I put the third option, somehow doesn't look right - we're talking Microsoft here. More I think about it more sure I am that it can be ignored.

  • Ok, we decided to release more of the source code for Windows.

    In the packet we have provided for all of you, you will be able to see every comment line in Windows.

    And by the way, please sign your NDAs before opening your packets.

    Thank you.
  • by JimmytheGeek ( 180805 ) <jamesaffeld@ y a h> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:29AM (#5086294) Journal
    "Shared source" and its variants is worse than open source and worse than closed source. Both open and closed source have their points (though I find the open source record to be much better, and the model more intuitively convincing), but shared source is not restricted enough, which means that all the bad people will get to pour through it. Few of the white hats will get it, and none of them can fix it. Either open it, or (distant second choice) keep it closed and pretend there's a lid on it. Don't hang your dirty laundry in public and refuse to let anyone else wash it!!!
  • by hazzzard ( 530181 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:36AM (#5086319)
    How does one certify that the binary that is shipped corresponds 1:1 to the code, especially if only parts of the source code are revealed (you can't compile yourself!). Sorry, but even with non-corrupt governments, one could not trust this... Note that the compiler is also a potential source of trojan horses, even if the sources they disclose were the ones they compile.

    To Bill Gates: Put Windows under GPL, make it compile with gcc, and we can talk about this again...
  • Yawn (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jone ( 6469 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:38AM (#5086329) Homepage
    If you aren't in a position to build, test and deploy the code you are no better off.

    So, you can look at the code? How exciting! What guarantee do you have that the binary that is later stuffed down your throat is the built from the source you looked at? None.

    False tranparency, a.k.a lipstick on a pig. :-)
  • "Microsoft Corp. will expand sharing of the code underlying its Windows programs to help .... improve computer security" Does this mean M$ admits that open source is more secure? Or maybe that source open to those who should be responsible for the system improves security...?
  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:08AM (#5086694) Homepage
    This reminds me of those 'staged' tours that opressive governments put on for the free world press every so often. I remember when Jerry Fawell went on a trip to aparthied era South Africa, took in the govt produced show, came back and said, "Well, all the natives looked happy to me".

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:57AM (#5086785) Homepage

    Until it's compiled. Not that I'm saying that Microsoft are a bunch of lying, cheating weasels. I don't have to say that, a couple of courts have done it for me.

    Given that, and given the "other arrangement" that the US gubmint has to access the source (note "the" source, not "some" source), I would have no confidence that anything shown to me by Microsoft - in a Microsoft lab, controlled by them, not available for tinkering or compiling - actually represented the source used to build the version of Windows that I was deploying across my home nation of Elbonia.

  • by ndnet ( 3243 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:25AM (#5086860)
    Really, there is nothing big here. This is a PR move that is meant to reduce the effect of those who want to see Microsoft source code.

    By doing this, they don't appease the people who read Slashdot and know C++. They appease John Doe who only heard about source code from the antitrust trial. By saying that some government organizations can view the code, they can ensure that the opening of source code will not be an issue for some time.

    It seems as if Microsoft is getting ready for another major expansion - with the trial dead, PR moves like these, and a bunch of new products in the wings (the video iPod-style media player, etc.), it's almost ready.
  • Gates the Stripper (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Badgerman ( 19207 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:41AM (#5086898)
    Just a theory here - perhaps Microsoft intends to open all their code. Eventually. But is going slow for the following reasons:
    1. They've got a lot of stupid crap they'd like to fix.
    2. They can still use the "closed source" bugaboo for marketing.
    3. If they take their time, it LOOKS like they're doing something valuable.

      It's like a Stripper - somehow taking one's time makes people feel the results are even more interesting and worthwhile.

      Just some thoughts.
  • Propoganda (Score:3, Funny)

    by Doomrat ( 615771 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:45AM (#5086909) Homepage
    So, all of this anti-Linux propaganda that Microsoft were printing as advertisements in German magazines (as far as I remember) which stated that Linux was dangerous and insecure due to open source... ...Microsoft is going to pretend that they never said any of that? Obviously opening part of their sources to certain bodies isn't the same as true open source, but clearly they're beginning to encourage that sort of thing a little more from now on. Maybe Bill Gates shouldn't spend so much time shitting on a rock that he's about to sit on.
  • My rights?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @09:35AM (#5087050)
    It is interesting that they are going to give governments the ability to plug in their own security/encryption. That is for government deployments only, right? Because if my government starts putting spyware in an OS that I'm for some reason required to use, then using a debugger and disassembler should be allowed under the same premises as the right to bear arms, no?

    Also, if I were a non-us government, why should I care that MS will show me 'some peices' of the code? That's akin to only letting the UN inspectors see 'some facilities' that might be used to build nuclear devices.

    Openness is like pregnancy. You can't be a little of either.

    -guvna g
  • Why bother? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GrEp ( 89884 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `200brc'> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @10:05AM (#5087176) Homepage Journal
    If a government is going to spend enough money to see that Windows is secure for them, why not just secure a free OS? You get the double hit of developing the software and then paying licence fees. If governments would spend just half of their security money on free software they would save millions in licencing fees, plus cut down the number of wirefraud prosecutions for unsecure businesses.
  • Not open at all (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kindbud ( 90044 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @12:29PM (#5088307) Homepage
    The source to a Windows module isn't open until you can edit it, compile it, and produce an object file that could be loaded into a running system, or booted as the running system.

    Until then, it's a disservice to OSS to acquiesce and call what Microsoft is doing "opening their source" even if that's what they call it.
  • Two questions... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @05:02PM (#5090010)

    How does a government rep meeting with a Microsoft security developer make the government's concerns regarding the security (or rather the lack of security) any less of a worry? (Or are they just giving the government folks a chance to meet the goofs responsible for the travesty that is Microsoft's idea of security?)

    How does meeting with Microsoft and being allowed to see portions of their precious source code make your data any less captive?

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.