Today, Microsoft announced the Government Security Program (GSP), a plan that will let various governments view the Windows source code to ensure that the product meets their security needs. The announcement, which is clearly a response to worldwide calls for governments to adopt open-source solutions such as Linux, was somewhat unexpected but is in keeping with Microsoft's ever-evolving plan to undermine adoption of open-source Windows competitors. Microsoft says that GSP is integral to the company's efforts to address the unique security requirements of governments and international organizations throughout the world. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Russia have already signed GSP agreements with Microsoft, and the company is discussing the GSP with more than 20 other countries.

"At Microsoft, we view governments that utilize our software as trusted partners," said Microsoft chief technology officer (CTO) and Senior Vice President Craig Mundie. "The \[GSP\] will provide governments with the opportunity to assess the security and integrity of the Microsoft products they deploy. In talking with government customers, we've been told this is a key capability that they need and we responded. In addition to source code access we are providing technical documentation, methods for troubleshooting, access to cryptographic tools subject to export controls, and access to Microsoft expert support technicians who can collaborate with governments on how they use this source code access."

Microsoft isn't charging for the program, but the company is controlling how governments access its Windows source code. Microsoft will provide governments with a code-review tool, complete with certain license restrictions, that lets technical government representatives view--but not alter or copy--the Windows source code. This source-code access, as well as the other technical information Microsoft provides, will let governments assess Windows' security prowess and help them develop their own secure applications that run on Windows.