Microsoft could hardly be called an open-source supporter, but the company will probably open more of its source code with a new expansion of the Shared Source Initiative, this time to include the source code to the other half of the company's crown jewels, Microsoft Office. The company already shares the source code to all Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000 versions and much of the source code to Windows CE .NET with select partners, governments, educational institutions, and even technology enthusiasts.
"We're not holding anything back in terms of our thinking on this," Shared Source Program Manager Jason Matusow told CNET News.com recently. "We're looking at how we provide source code \[for these products\] and for which communities."
Microsoft already licenses the XML-based file formats that many Office 2003 applications use, but licensing document file formats is different from licensing application source code. As with Windows source code licensing, customers who license Office might expect to learn enough about the inner workings of the suite to help them create add-ons and complementary applications that work better with the Office suite. From a less technical standpoint, opening Office could ease concerns from governments, which are increasingly pressuring their suppliers for open-source--or at least standards-based--solutions. Access to the Office source code could assure governments that their data isn't subject to any unknown security problems.