Microsoft and German Federal Ministry of the Interior Sign Agreement for Protecting Critical Infrastructures’ IT Operations

BERLIN, May 3, 2004 — The German Federal Ministry of the Interior, represented by Federal Minister Otto Schily, and the Microsoft Corporation, represented by CEO Steve Ballmer, today signed in Berlin an agreement for protecting critical infrastructures’ IT operations.

Through the agreement, the software company is contributing to the improvement of the security of IT systems within the Federal Republic of Germany. The cooperation between the federal government and Microsoft in the areas of IT security, interoperability and openness was already emphasized a year ago through a Memorandum of Understanding, and is now being further concretized in the area of protecting critical infrastructures’ IT operations.

“Microsoft has invested significantly in IT security, and meanwhile places high value on product security, even in the development phase,” stated Schily.

The goal of this agreement is to increase IT security in critical infrastructures through an intensive exchange between the Federal Office for Information Security and Microsoft regarding security options and mechanisms.

“The security of our products has the highest priority for Microsoft,” said Ballmer. “On the topic of IT security, Germany has a leading role in Europe. To this extent the cooperation with the federal government is also extremely valuable for us. The agreement executed today is a milestone for Microsoft as to trusting cooperation with governments in Europe and worldwide.”

The German federal government and Microsoft have for some time conducted intensive dialogue and worked together on a variety of projects on issues of security, interoperability, and openness of IT systems. Microsoft is a founding member of the medium-sized business CERT, “Mcert” and, through regular dialogue with the Federal Office for Information Security, discusses numerous IT security issues, including the topic of certifications in accordance with international security standards such as Common Criteria.

Schily and Ballmer emphasized in their meeting in Berlin that the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Microsoft in the past few months have discussed in-depth ideas regarding issues of interoperability and the support of open standards. Ballmer said that Microsoft is responsive to the special requirements of public administration, particularly concerning the following points:

  • To enable the exchange of data among manufacturers, Microsoft makes available to its customers and providers a royalty-free license for the use of Microsoft Office 2003 XML formats.

  • Microsoft supports, on the basis of the .NET System architecture, the OSCI protocol standard developed in Germany, which is the foundation for secure legal transactions in the context of e-government services.

  • Microsoft will actively participate in continuous exchange with the federal government in the expansion of the interoperability of Microsoft products and in the support of open standards. Thus, Microsoft will, among others – as before – participate in the context of the SAGA expert circle within the Interior Ministry on the continued development of standards for e-government applications (SAGA).

In addition to the intense cooperation on specialized topics, Microsoft and the German federal government are connected by a long-standing customer relationship. In January 2004 the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Microsoft agreed on a three-year extension of the existing license framework agreement for the Microsoft Select Program. This enables the federal government, states, and municipalities to continue to purchase Microsoft products at especially favorable prices. The previous conditions also apply in principle in the future. Moreover, the new agreement contains clear improvements in certain areas for the public administration. Microsoft emphasizes thereby its objective of more strongly focusing on the requirements of the public administration in contractual relationships.

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