Microsoft CEO expands partnership with Australian gov't

Despite efforts to maintain a low profile, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, arrived in Australia Thursday for a 24-hour stop over principally aimed at talks with government.

His morning arrival down under began with the signing of a joint agreement with the Department of Defense reaffirming the relationship between the two organizations.

The agreement was signed by parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Defense, Peter Lindsay. Microsoft and the department want to expand their partnership which was formed in the year 2000 with an Enterprise License Agreement (ELA).

Under the ELA, defense receives premier support and undertakes commercial and collaborative planning as well as R&D with the software giant.

"By continuing to deploy Microsoft technologies, the department will be able to simplify its operating environment, reduce integration risks, effort and costs into the future," Lindsay said. Microsoft is also engaged in a Security Cooperation Program (SCP) with the Defense Signals Directorate (DSD) which was signed last year.

It involves joint cooperation across a range of security activities including computer incident response, attack mitigation and public outreach.

The partnership with defense is only one part of a whole-of-government agreement Microsoft signed with the federal government to exchange information on a range of security issues including cyberterrorism.

Australia is just one of 14 different countries participating in the SCP, which also gives governments controlled access to Windows source code.

Microsoft's strong ties in the nation's capital isn't just restricted to the federal government, the company also has a .Net software developer cluster with the ACT government.

From Canberra, Ballmer will head to Sydney where he will remain until his departure Friday afternoon.

While in Sydney Ballmer will talk about Microsoft's innovation and productivity plans at the American Chamber of Commerce.

Media have been excluded from the lunch-time event which will be held at Sheraton on the Park.

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