Shared Source

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What Does Shared Source Mean?

Shared Source is Microsoft’s mechanism for legal distribution of software source code. This venture was initially launched in May 2001 and includes numerous licenses and technologies.


Microsoft’s Shared Source permits both organizations and individuals to access a program’s source code as a reference. This access provides developers with debug capabilities, which can be downloaded after satisfying certain eligibility criteria. The associated license may range from only code viewing for reference to permission for modification, which can be used for commercial and noncommercial purposes.

Techopedia Explains Shared Source

The objectives of Microsoft Shared Source include:

  • Ensure security and integrity of Windows users’ computing environments
  • Provide technologies to universities worldwide and enhance educational opportunities
  • Provide an expanded access of Shared Source software to researchers, customers and developers
  • Provide essential tools to produce better software
  • Preserve intellectual property rights

Microsoft has two types of shared source licenses: free and open-source licenses and non-free and non-open-source licenses. Both types involve many complex rules and restrictions.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.