It's easy for consumers to bash Microsoft. Even though the company has probably done more for the advancement of computer technology than any other company, it's also done plenty to hamper development. Microsoft is seen as the big bully on the playground. The company dominates the markets and therefore, in may ways, makes the rules.

For years, software developers who favor open-source have strongly criticized Microsoft. The premise of open-source software is simple: You build a cool piece of software, and you let others look at your programming code if they want to. That gives them an opportunity to develop their own software which works in conjunction with yours. Essentially, by leaving your programming code open for the world to see, development is encouraged and we all benefit more.

Microsoft has had a longstanding practice of not having open source code. This means that it hides its code so no one else can look at it or modify it. Use its products as-is or not at all, and wait for Microsoft to develop something new if you want it. This policy hampers the development of technology and frustrates users who want to customize software for their personal needs.

At long last, Microsoft has announced that it will be making some of its source code for key software available. This will help Microsoft's products interact better with other software, and will also allow developers outside the company to create software that works well with certain Microsoft titles. I applaud this action by Microsoft, although it's long overdue and probably should be wider-reaching than currently planned.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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