Amid internal squabblings with the company's top executives, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced that the source code to its popular Paint program will be made available to the public. The source code is available now from the company's website, and licensed under the General Public License.
At a shock press conference this morning, Gates expressed concern over the proprietary software model and believed that, for certain applications, it wasn't helpful.
'Releasing our popular and successful graphics editor under the General Public License will help make it a better program. It will go through a three month probation period where we expect to see the open source community make significant enhancements to it.'
Not everyone thinks it's a good idea, including Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer. Ballmer, speaking exclusively to CRN, said this is the culmination of two years of debate.
'[Gates] is the only one that thinks it's a good idea. He's a technician, not a businessman, and he doesn't understand the implications of releasing our code to the community.'
The choice of program is also a surprise for Ballmer. 'Paint is one of our prized pieces of intellectual property. It's powerful, small and has the smallest memory footprint of any graphics editor available. By releasing our source code, anyone can take those secrets and build them into their own editors.
'Sure, it will increase the quality of all programs in the industry, but what incentive will there be to purchase Windows? What the public doesn't understand is that less people buying Windows will mean less research and development for applications like Paint. And in the end, that's bad for everyone.'
The new license will allow anyone to download the source code, modify it and recompile their own versions of Paint. Sections of the code can also be used in other applications, but only if the final product is licensed under the GPL.
Linux founder and open source evangelist Linus Torvalds also believes that Microsoft should keep its inferior code to itself. 'Of all the pieces of code [Gates] decides to open to the public, he chooses Paint. What's worse is that under the GPL, the code will infect anything it touches. We won't get rid of it!'
According to Gates, other applications are be due for future release, including MSN Messenger and Windows Movie Maker. For more information on the GPL, head over to the Free Software Foundation.
NOTE: If you believe this story, you're an April Fool!