Microsoft Opens Windows for FSB

Microsoft has agreed to share the source codes for Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010 and other programs with Russia's intelligence services to improve its sales to the state.

The U.S. software giant signed an addendum to its agreement with the scientific and technical center Atlas, a federal state unitary enterprise that develops informational security systems and reports to the Communications and Press Ministry, a Microsoft spokesman told Vedomosti.

The addition gives state bodies the ability to study the source codes for a whole range of the corporation's newest products: the operating systems Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2; the Microsoft Office 2010 suite of office applications; and Microsoft SQL Server, its database management system.

The initial agreement, signed in 2002, gave access to the codes for earlier operating systems: Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2000.

It became important to update the list as new versions and products were released, Nikolai Pryanishnikov, Microsoft's president for Russia, told Vedomosti. When he took the job in January 2009, the relevant state bodies suggested that they renew the agreement, he said.

The new agreement will give Russian officials access to information about the entire platform, rather than just individual products, Pryanishnikov said.

Atlas will use the information to create cryptographic defenses for Microsoft's latest line of products, which will open them up for use by state agencies and services. Another new element in the addendum lets officials from Atlas and the Federal Security Service, or FSB, share their conclusions from studying the Microsoft code with other state bodies.

Pryanishnikov said the initiative was mutual. The state needed to be sure that Microsoft's programs met the intelligence services' requirements for use by the state, while Microsoft has an interest in widening its cooperation with the public sector.

State contracts bring Microsoft about 10 percent of its Russian revenue, although the figure is higher globally, Pryanishnikov said.

Microsoft does not disclose the volume of its revenue from Russia. Timur Farukshin, a consultant at IDC, estimates Microsoft's annual Russian earnings at $1 billion.

Instead of certifying individual Microsoft products, the FSB will sign off on platforms that can be used to handle electronic document flows and protect personal data, including for the state's e-government project, said Alexander Alfyorov, first deputy director of Atlas.

The government has allotted 2 billion rubles ($64 million) to create infrastructure for the e-government program through the end of 2010, with state-run Rostelecom acting as the lead contractor.

The renewed agreement comes as states are increasingly turning to open-source operating systems, which make their codes publicly available, said Alexei Kuzovkin, chairman of the IT group Armada.

As an example, he cited an Education and Science Ministry project, in which Armada is a participant, to deliver the free Linux operating system to schools. Microsoft is hoping to fight for those contracts, Kuzovkin said.

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