Microsoft Supporting Open Source: Threat or Promise?: Page 2

Having completely reversed itself, the software giant is now an active contributor to the Linux kernel.
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Imagine for a moment that Microsoft ends up being the company that releases code for, say, the eventual replacement of Wayland or X Window System. Unlikely, but humor me for just a moment.

So in this "tinfoil hat” type of example, Microsoft releases code that is an intricate part of what will be Linux on our desktops in, say, 10 years time. Going along with the idea that this code is released by the Microsoft Open Technologies subsidiary, we then learn that Microsoft suggests some kind of a license payment.

Now I realize that the above example is based on speculation, however don't think for a second that something similar isn't possible on a lesser level. All one needs to do is examine Microsoft's history and realize how the company prefers to position itself.

Microsoft CodePlex

Despite not being a fan of Microsoft's Hyper-V or any other alleged "open source cooperation" coming from them, at least we can agree that CodePlex isn't a threat. < p> As a matter of fact, I've actually heard from projects that swear by CodePlex saying that they're easier to work with than other legacy project hosting alternatives. Even the terms of service for CodePlex are extremely reasonable and attractive if you're looking for a Google Code or SourceForge alternative.

Now as one might expect, when you browse through CodePlex, much of the Linux-related offerings are centric to .Net and Windows. That’s understandable, as this is a project that is very Microsoft oriented. But this is completely fine by me, since no one is forced into hosting their projects with this service versus any other alternatives out there. It is interesting to see what the little ecosystem CodePlex has going for it.

I did manage to find some interesting projects like an imitation Gnome panel developed for Windows and designed with Visual Studio. But I can't say where the value in many of these projects are for Linux enthusiasts. Then again, I don't see Linux advocates as being the primary market for many of these applications.

No Microsoft Threat

Putting aside my own reservations about using any code coming from Microsoft, I don't see the company's contributions presenting an immediate danger to the open source community.

At the same time, in many ways it's fascinating to watch Microsoft's efforts. They appear to be trying to develop their own brand of an open source community, based solely on their own technologies. It's similar to the community we participate in, with the exception of the code and tools being used to build up applications within it.

Where Linux users use technologies that don't encompass any kind of vendor lock-in, allowing us to port our work to competing companies, Microsoft takes a different approach. Despite their best efforts, Microsoft's open source efforts are only as strong as their weakest link. So long as they're relying on proprietary platforms and development tools, there will be a locked environment that many of us won't want to participate in.

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Tags: open source, Linux, Microsoft

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