SEATTLE: Microsoft Corp. said that it would share the underlying software code for its Office program as part of its efforts to make governments more confident in the security and compatibility of the world's largest software maker's products.
The new initiative is an extension of Microsoft's Government Security Program, which allows the governments of more than 30 countries to examine most of Microsoft's underlying source code, or software blueprint for its flagship Windows operating system.
The source code for Office 2003 will be made available so that governments can conduct in-depth testing and examination to make sure that the document, spreadsheet, presentation and scheduling program works with other information technology systems, Microsoft said.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft keeps its source code closely guarded, and requires any governments or companies to sign agreements not to divulge the data that is used to create its software programs.
The Linux software system, which is now a major competitor to Windows and other Microsoft products, and its source code are freely available to anyone under an open source license that guarantees that the data will always be shared.
Microsoft launched an initiative a few years ago to share more of its software code with other technology companies, and later expanded that to include governments.
Britain has already agreed to participate in the source-sharing program for Office, Microsoft said. More than 30 countries have signed up to view Windows and Windows-related source code.