Microsoft Flirts With Open Source for Windows
2.02 p.m. ET (1802 GMT) April 8, 1999
By Stuart Glascock
Microsoft executives signaled again Wednesday that they are thinking about
opening up the Windows source code, but flirting with the notion is all they seem
to be doing.
The company is "thinking with great interest" about opening the source code,
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft president, told a large audience at the Windows
Hardware Engineering Conference.
"We are trying to understand this whole notion of open source," Ballmer said.
"Most CIOs don't want their people to touch the source code," but some
customers find "a certain comfort level" in having access to the code.
While Microsoft executives have talked about opening the source code before,
the ongoing Department of Justice antitrust trial may be putting the heat on.
Indeed, one of the remedies suggested in the case, should the government prevail,
is freeing up the code. The trial is currently in a recess.
Microsoft may also be motivated by upstart competitor Linux, a collaboratively
developed operating system that has growing support.
"When we see a competitor crop up like that, we are going to be very
competitive," said Brain Valentine, vice president for Windows operating
Microsoft has been conducting market research on whether customers want open
source code, Valentine said.
"We'll ask our customers if they want open source," he said. "We are seriously
considering it. To some extent, I don't have a problem with having the code out
During a question-and-answer session with reporters at WinHEC, Carl Stork,
general manager for Windows hardware strategy, said Microsoft already
publishes volumes of software-development kits, device driver kits, and other
technical data for developers.