Q&A: Windows CE Shared Source Premium Program Adds Two New Licensing Options

Craig Mundie, senior vice president and chief technical officer of advanced strategies and policies

REDMOND, Wash., April 9, 2003 — Microsoft has added a new program to its Shared Source Initiative, the company’s licensing framework for making source code more broadly available to customers, partners, developers and other interested parties. The new Windows CE Shared Source Premium Licensing Program expands the ways that Microsoft customers and partners can use the code. PressPass asked Craig Mundie , Senior Vice President and Chief Technical Officer for Advanced Strategies and Policy, to describe the program and to explain the significance of the Windows CE Shared Source Premium Program to Microsoft, its partners and customers.

PressPass: What is the Windows CE Shared Source Program, and how does it fit with Microsoft’s larger Shared Source Initiative?

Mundie: Back in May 2001, Microsoft created the Shared Source Initiative to make Windows source code broadly available to customers, partners, governments and other technology companies while still preserving the intellectual property rights that have sustained innovation and growth throughout the software industry. There are a variety of source licensing programs within the Shared Source Initiative, and the program has been highly successful at meeting specific source-access needs. In some cases, such as the Enterprise Source Licensing Program, we are granting read-only access rights to valuable IP, and in others, such as the .NET Passport Manager, we make code available to modify and change.

As part of this program, Microsoft initiated the first Windows CE Shared Source program in July 2001, making 400,000 lines of Windows CE 3.0 Shared Source code available as a free download. Developers are able to use the Windows CE Shared Source code to develop and distribute derivatives for non-commercial purposes, and as a reference to optimize Windows CE-based hardware and software for commercial purposes. Over time we have extended the Windows CE Shared Source Program, making over 1.5 million lines of Shared Source code available for Windows CE .NET in January 2002. This includes source code for the Windows CE .NET kernel, file systems, networking and shell. To date, the program has been a great success, with more than 160,000 downloads of the Windows CE Shared Source code.

PressPass: Please explain the Microsoft Windows CE Shared Source Premium Licensing Program.

Mundie: The Windows CE Shared Source Premium licensing program is an expansion of the current Windows CE Shared Source program. Windows CE Premium was designed not only to empower our customers to innovate on top of the Windows CE source code as well as to differentiate their products created with the Windows CE source code. The new program significantly increases the volume and type of source code available to eligible licensees, providing partners and customers the ability to develop more innovative products and services. Enhanced access to source code empowers developers by allowing them to optimize the performance of Windows CE-based devices and applications through reference to the licensed code. It also allows increased opportunities for customer collaboration with Microsoft and community contribution through greater customer feedback.

Perhaps the most significant change is that the Windows CE Premium Derivatives License adds a commercial derivative option to the Windows CE license. CEP is the first Windows CE program under the Shared Source Initiative to allow manufacturers (OEMs), silicon vendors and systems integrators full access to Windows CE source code. All licensees can then modify the code, and OEMs can now commercially distribute those modifications in Windows CE-based devices.

With Windows CE Premium, software developers and OEMs can use the Windows CE source code for their own increased business opportunities.

PressPass: Why did Microsoft develop the Microsoft Windows CE Shared Source Premium License Program?

Mundie: We are always looking for ways to add customer value and meet the needs of our customers. The Windows CE Shared Source Premium license program stemmed from our experience when launching Windows CE 4.0. We created a joint development program with a number of OEM customers to garner feedback on the operating system before it was commercially available. Our OEM customers told us that if they could be assured of having greater access to more of the source code during the development of products, they could save on development costs, get products to market more quickly, and optimize their solutions. Based on that direct customer feedback, as well as the success of the first Windows CE Shared Source license, we developed the Windows CE Shared Source Premium License Program to increase customer value and expand their business opportunities.

PressPass: Who is the audience for the Windows CE Shared Source Premium Program?

Mundie: The global program provides access to Windows CE source code to device manufacturers, silicon vendors and system integrators. In general, having access to the source code means that these customers and partners can develop even more innovative embedded products that are optimized for Windows CE. Additionally, customers and partners can provide feedback that contributes to collaboration and community contribution to ongoing improvements — requested by customers — to Windows CE products.

OEMs can use access to source code to bring even more innovative and differentiated Windows CE-based products to market faster by including derivative works of the Windows CE source code in their shipped products. Silicon vendors use source code to optimize processors and embedded systems for faster and more seamless performance with the operating system. System integrators can use source-access to more quickly provide customers with hardware and software solutions at a lower cost.

We are also delivering collaborative benefits through Windows CE Shared Source Premium. Because more customers will have greater access to more Windows CE code, we can work with them more closely and receive more of their feedback. In this way, we can continue to enhance the code base and development tools in further editions.

PressPass: How will these new licensing programs benefit consumers?

Mundie: Having access to the Windows CE Shared Source Premium code base sparks additional innovation.

Device manufacturers are able to use, and build on top of, the rich Windows CE .NET building blocks to focus their attention on developing more innovative devices for the marketplace. Hitachi is a good example of this concept in practice. (See sidebar, above.)

Additionally, silicon vendors can more rapidly optimize their processors for faster and more seamless performance with the Windows CE operating system, and system integrators can help their customers build hardware and software solutions for Windows CE that bring products to market faster and at a lower cost. The result for customers is a larger selection of unique, intelligent, connected and feature rich device options based on Windows CE.

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