26 January 2006 Microsoft executives have confirmed the software titan is to share parts of its source code with licensed partners, breaking its tradition of jealously guarding its code.
Fee-paying members of its Code Center Premium programme will be able to access sections of the source code for its widely used Windows Server 2003 operating system, in order to better understand how the operating system works.
It will not be possible to copy the code for use in other software, as it is presented in read-only document form online.
The decision to allow scrutiny of the source code should help Microsoft appease European Commission officials.
The EC has threatened to impose fines of €2 million a day on Microsoft unless it reforms its anti-competitive business practices. Microsoft is to appeal against the EC decision in April.
“We are putting our most valuable intellectual property on the table, so we can put technical compliance issues to rest and move forward with a serious discussion about the substance of this case,”” Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith, said in a press conference.
Neil Macehiter from analyst firm Macehiter Ward-Dutton says that despite this apparent willingness to operate more openly, Microsoft still has a long battle ahead of it if it is to put anti-trust accusations behind it.
“The core issues of licensing of its intellectual property, particularly by the open source community, remain and will be the subject of continuing fervent debate with the EC and more broadly,” he said.