Microsoft is to give European governments access to its source code, in order that they might verify that the companies software has no back doors - or, the more cynical might say, no back doors the governments didn't put there themselves.
Microsoft has long been a closed software house. Its proprietary products, like Windows and Office, have their source code jealously guarded, while only small projects are released under free software or open source licences. It's an approach which has allowed Microsoft to become one of the largest software companies in the world, and arguably easily the most well-known, but it has a drawback: customers have to take Microsoft's word that the software does what it is claimed to do and nothing else.
To allay governmental concerns surrounding potential back door code, Microsoft has officially opened the Microsoft Transparency Centre in Brussels. Selected European, Middle Eastern and African (EMEA) governmental departments are able, though the Centre, to request access to the source code of Microsoft's products for security and functionality review - although not, of course, for modification or redistribution.
'We opened our first Transparency Centre in Redmond almost a year ago, and have already hosted several governments there. Today’s opening in Brussels will give governments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa a convenient location to experience our commitment to transparency and delivering products and services that are secure by principle and by design,
' claimed Matt Thomlinson, vice president of Microsoft's security division, in a blog post
announcing the move.
More information on the facility, which is accessible only to members of Microsoft's Government Security Programme, is available on the official blog post