Microsoft this week released into the open-source community a series of pre-existing templates designed to simplify the writing of Windows programs--making it possible for developers to freely modify the templates.

On Tuesday night, the company posted to SourceForge its Windows Template Library, a series of code snippits designed to make it easier for developers to create graphic interfaces for Windows programs. The templates have been freely available for five years from Microsoft's developer site.

The release marks the second time Microsoft has released code on SourceForge under an open-source license--in both cases using the Common Public License. In April, Microsoft revealed the code for its Windows Installer XML (WiX) software, a set of tools used to build installation packages for the company's Windows products from Extensible Markup Language source code.

As for the templates, developers will now be able to build on and modify them.

"This is hardly something that is brand-new," said Jason Matusow, Shared Source Initiative manager at Microsoft. "There was some concern that we weren't putting forward enough (resources)."

By allowing others to modify the code, Matusow said, Microsoft benefits by increasing Windows development, while programmers benefit from improved tools.

Microsoft has shared other, more substantive portions of its code, but typically under its more restrictive shared-source program, which has allowed governments and others to see, but not alter, Microsoft code. The company also has programs for universities and others that let them view some Microsoft code and make changes for noncommercial purposes.

Earlier this year, some portions of the Windows 2000 source code did find their way onto the Internet.
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