Computer giant Sun Microsystems says it will offer programming language Java to the open source community.
Java is now in the open source realm
Java is used in more than 3.8 billion mobile phones, computers and other devices around the world.
The decision to release the code under an open licence means the world can now use, develop and share Java for free.
The same type of licence also covers the distribution of the core, or kernel, of the open source operating system Linux.
Rich Green, Sun's executive vice president of software, said the company hoped to turn more developers into Java programmers.
"The open sourcing of this really means more: more richness of offerings, more capability, more applications that consumers will get to use," Mr Green said.
"The platform itself will become a place for innovation."
Open source software has become a major force in the digital world - with the majority of web servers globally using Apache, an open source web server, many businesses using Linux on their machines and a growing library of open source projects available free to use.
All the Java source code is expected to be released by March 2007, Mr Green said.
The decision covers all Java technology, including software that runs on handheld devices, personal computers and servers.
Analysts have said the decision would likely extend the life of Java, which was released more than a decade ago, and boost business for the company.
"Sun profits from the Java ecosystem thriving," Michael Cote, an analyst with RedMonk told the Associated Press.
"Whether it's their hardware sales or their service sales, by open-sourcing Java they're hoping to ensure its longer life and ensure it's what the community wants it to be."