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Microsoft Opens Windows to UK

eGov monitor Weekly

3 February 2003

The UK has become the latest country to be given unprecedented access to the hitherto secret source code behind Microsoft's Windows operating system, as part of a programme to help governments and agencies improve information security.

The landmark agreement is the third to be announced by the US software giant so far this year under its new "Government Security Programme" initiative and follows similar deals with Russia and NATO.

Through the agreement, the UK Government will be licensed to inspect Microsoft's source code and evaluate its ability to withstand attacks. Other assistance provided by the Corporation will include technical documentation, troubleshooting methods and access to Microsoft support technicians, said Craig Mundie, the company's Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

The e-Envoy Andrew Pinder, who signed the deal on behalf of the UK Government, said: " Partnership agreements such as the one I have signed today with Microsoft are key to the risk management of the National Information Infrastructure. By allowing us access to their source-code we will be using the knowledge gained, together with the rest of our experience, to make sure that a greater range of products meet the UK government's information assurance needs."

He added that the Government would be starting a dialogue to reach similar agreements with other vendors.

It was also announced that Mr Pinder has been appointed Central Sponsor for Information Assurance, in addition to his existing role as e-Envoy, and will head a new unit of the same name within the Cabinet Office which will "bring together IT security expertise from across government". The unit's responsibilities will involve working with the public and private sectors to "ensure that risks to the National Information Infrastructure are appropriately managed", the Cabinet Office said.

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