Found this article in the school newspaper. Though it's not as if we needed any more confirmation that M$ is not the most ethical company in the world. Microsoft a threat to U.S. security? Don't Tread on Me By Richard K. McPike Commentary Editor March 06, 2003 According to its own testimony at its anti-trust trial last year, Microsoft Corporation, purveyor of the omnipresent Office and Windows product lines, has betrayed the United States of America. Microsoft has been struggling over the past year to slow the loss of international market share to cheaper, Linux-based alternatives. To that end, it recently began sharing the source code of its Windows operating system with various foreign governments. The problem is that this initiative comes just months after Jim Allchin, Microsoft's head of Windows development, claimed under oath that releasing such code to its competitors would be a major risk to American national security. The disconnect between the software giant's actions and claims became even more striking last week when Microsoft announced that the second major nation to receive a tour of Windows' plumbing will be the People's Republic of China. China is not America's ally. China is not our friend. At best, our two nations tolerate each other. At worst, we are on a cultural collision course that could dwarf the Cold War. And now Microsoft is planning to give China information that it has claimed could seriously compromise American security. Thanks a lot, Mr. Gates. So has Microsoft actually betrayed America? Such an idea seems unimaginable. But to take the corporation at its word would indicate that it has. If so, should its CEO, Steve Ballmer, be tossed into Camp X-Ray? Are he and Bill Gates little more than a pair of post-millennial Rosenbergs? Or should we accept that this code, whose perusal by Canadian software conglomerates like Corel must be prevented at all costs, is somehow no threat in the hands of a nation hostile to our interests? Is Microsoft claiming that WordPerfect is more dangerous to US interests than China's nuclear arsenal? Somehow, that doesn't add up. Nor does the notion that Microsoft cares more about its market position than the potential eradication of the American way of life. Microsoft is aggressive, but not homicidal. Which means we must consider the possibility that the whole thing was a lie. Perhaps Allchin's claims were merely smoke and mirrors - an attempt to use concerns created by Sept. 11 as a cover to protect the company's monopolistic industry position. That's crass, despicable and devious, but it does put recent events in a more logical light. Microsoft's certainly never balked at being devious before. Microsoft is, after all, the company that used to intentionally break competing products with upgrades to its operating system software. Knowing the internals of the OS can give the company an overwhelming advantage when it comes to developing software - which puts Microsoft in an insurmountably powerful position. Just ask Netscape. That's why the states suing Microsoft wanted it to give competitors access to Windows' code - it would give Microsoft's competitors equal footing when developing Windows software. It was to prevent such a terrifyingly fair situation that Allchin trotted out his "national security" line - a justification we must now, potentially, reject. One cannot synthesize Microsoft's claims and actions regarding Windows source code into a coherent whole. Therefore, it seems likely that Allchin lied, and that allowing competitors to see the code was never a threat to American defense. The other option is that Microsoft wouldn't care if the United States were obliterated - a patently absurd notion. Microsoft didn't want Corel or others to see its source code not out of fear for American security, but for fear of facing competition in a truly open market. Microsoft wasn't concerned for the safety of the free world, but instead for its ability to continue to extend and secure its monopoly position. And it dressed its crass concerns in a mirage of patriotism - an act that wasn't just reprehensible, but probably illegal, for Allchin spun this web of apparent lies while under oath. This could be perjury. Either way, something is wrong here. If Microsoft's claims regarding the importance of Windows to American security are true then the company has endangered our nation. If Microsoft's claims were false, then Allchin committed perjury. Whatever the truth is, Microsoft must be held accountable, both for its words and its actions.