European Ministry Provided with Microsoft Source Code for the First Time

VIENNA, Dec. 3, 2001 — The Federal Ministry of the Interior in Austria is the first government body in Europe to be granted the source code for Windows XP under Microsoft’s Shared Source Initiative. The ministry is using the insight it has gained through this Shared Source Initiative to guarantee a higher level of security for the citizens of Austria.

Within the framework of the Shared Source Initiative, Microsoft is providing the Windows source code to customers, academic institutions, governments and partners. The primary aim here is to harmonise the positive aspects of increased transparency with the requirements of an economically healthy and innovative software industry. Microsoft has been providing academic institutions with access to the Windows source code for research and training purposes for more than ten years already. Over 120 universities in 30 countries worldwide have availed of this opportunity. In Austria two universities currently hold a source code licence. Microsoft also provides major hardware producers and partner companies with licences for the Window’s source code when required. The Federal Ministry of the Interior in Austria has now become the first government authority in Europe to participate in the Shared Source Initiative. The ministry is confident that access to the Windows source code will help them to better understand network security issues and IT security issues.

“Our Shared Source program is all about empowering our customers,” said Bill Gates, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect. “It enables valued customers such as the Ministry of the Interior to gain a deeper understanding of our platform, helping them to better protect the security of their network and to customize software applications.”

“Crime – and in particular, organised crime – employs the full range of technological possibilities. In an effort to initiate appropriate measures against high-tech crime, a number of divisions that employ specially trained CID officers have now been set up within the Ministry of the Interior”, explains Dr. Ernst Strasser, Minister of the Interior. By way of example he explains, “A computer freak – virus programmer or hacker – is more than capable of finding deficiencies in a company’s EDP system. Here it is essential that an insight be gained into the relevant processes so that countermeasures can be implemented immediately”.

“Microsoft is facing up to the challenge of making the software source codes more transparent”, explains Andreas Ebert, the General Manager of Microsoft Austria. “We are delighted that the Ministry of the Interior has taken such an interest in our Shared Source Initiative and that we have been able to make a contribution to the safety of the Austrian people”.

Highest level of security and transparency for Microsoft customers

The Microsoft platform is very well established worldwide and consequently is often the target of criminal attacks. Microsoft therefore attaches particular importance to security. To guarantee the highest level of security for its customers Microsoft has, for example, developed the “Strategic Technology Protection Program”. This program enables Microsoft to provide customer support with the help of Security Tool Kits, regular updates and an enhanced flow of information in questions relating to security. In an effort to meet the growing requirements in terms of software security, Microsoft has integrated features into its products which allow the user to decide which contents and sources he trusts or which safety level he wishes to opt for when using the Internet. Microsoft’s Shared Source Initiative represents one further step towards enhancing the transparency of the Windows source code and also serves to boost the user’s confidence with respect to software security.

This Shared Source Initiative from Microsoft, which focuses on the licensing of source codes, embraces several programs for customers and partners: Under the Enterprise Source Licensing Program approx. 1600 major customers in 27 countries will be able to acquire licences for the Windows source code. Microsoft Research Source Licensing provides universities and public research institutes with access to the code. The Government Source Licensing Program concentrates on source codes for public administration bodies or government institutions not covered by the other licensing programs. More and more interested parties now avail of a user-friendly Smart Card solution which allows easy and safe access to the required source code via the Internet.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.