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India to get a look at Windows code?

The software giant is in talks with the country's government to share the source code underlying its Windows operating system.

India may soon become the latest Asian country to gain access to the source code of Microsoft's Windows operating system.

According to Peter Moore, Microsoft Asia-Pacific's chief technology officer, the company is in open discussions with Indian authorities on the possibility of joining Microsoft's Government Security Program (GSP).

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The Redmond, Wash.-based company launched the program in January of last year to provide international governments with the highly guarded inner workings of its dominant Windows OS. The move is largely designed to alleviate concerns about potential vulnerabilities within the Windows source code and hidden backdoors that could allow outsiders to retrieve confidential information from government information technology systems.

"Providing both source access and technical information to national governments and international organizations about the Microsoft Windows platform, the GSP better enables government customers to design, build, deploy and maintain secure computing environments," Moore said.

Besides allaying security fears, industry observers believe the program could be an attempt to combat the spread of the Linux OS, which has an open-source code policy and has been steadily gaining momentum among regional governments.

In the Asia-Pacific, Microsoft already has signed a GSP agreement with China, one of the strongest proponents of open-source software. The software giant has struck similar arrangements with Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia.

Winston Chai of CNETAsia reported from Singapore.