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Microsoft Gives Russia Access to Code

Russia is the first to enlist in the company's "Government Security Program."

MOSCOW (AP) -- Microsoft is giving the Russian government access to its secret source code for Windows operating systems as part of a global effort to improve information security, company officials said Monday.

"This is a very big step," said Olga Dergunova, managing director of Microsoft's Moscow office. The company will reveal the "architecture and principles" behind Windows, she said, in what analysts say is an effort to keep governments from switching to cheaper alternatives.

Russia is the first country to sign on to Microsoft's "Government Security Program" -- which allows countries to review the secret code and evaluate the software's ability to withstand attacks.

It also gives countries the technical data they need to latch their own security technology onto the Windows platform.

Many analysts say the initiative is meant to keep governments around the world from straying to open-sourced software alternatives, such as Linux, in which the underlying code can be downloaded for free.

In Russia, Microsoft signed the agreement with the Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information (FAPSI), a Russian intelligence and surveillance agency that was once part of the Soviet-era KGB, and the Atlas Scientific-Technical Center.

By giving the Russian government access to the Windows source code, the program may also aid the fight against software piracy in Russia, which is one of the world's biggest producers of counterfeit computer, music and video products, Dergunova said.

Sales of illegally produced Windows programs and other Microsoft products in Russia have deprived the company of hundreds of millions of dollars in potential profits, she said.

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