Microsoft announced it has opened its source code to governments under a new "Government Security Program" (GSP). The GSP lets governments review code for security purposes and other concerns. The security of Microsoft products has been a stumbling block for government acceptance. Governments have long had access to various UNIX platforms, including varieties of Linux. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The GSP is a no-fee program that requires the use of a code-reviewing tool, which is subject to Microsoft licensing. Microsoft will provide connectivity to its facilities for governments to review the code. A Microsoft spokesperson said that, "in addition to source access, the GSP provides for the disclosure of technical information about the Windows platform, enhancing governments' ability to build and deploy computing infrastructures with strong security technologies in place."
Microsoft Senior Vice President and Chief Technical Officer of Advanced Strategies and Policies Craig Mundie said, "The program includes a number of specific benefits, starting with instant online access to source code for the most current versions and beta releases of Windows operating systems. Further, Microsoft discloses a wide range of technical information that is designed to provide government technical experts who participate in the program with an engineer's eye view of Windows architecture ... In addition, the program offers opportunities for government computing professionals to visit us here in Redmond to review Windows development, testing, and deployment processes, and to discuss ongoing and future projects with Microsoft security experts."
Mundie also said that countries that are trade-embargoed, such as Cuba and Iraq, can't participate in the program. Countries that aren't trade-embargoed must have laws that will protect Microsoft's intellectual property rights. Mundie said that so far about 60 countries are eligible.
In 2001 Microsoft launched its Share Source Initiative (SSI) for large customers, which has certain requirements of customers who participate. GSP doesn't require that a government already be a Microsoft customer. The company said Russia and NATO have already signed GSP agreements, and as many as 20 other countries are discussing GSP agreements.