Microsoft to Support Open Source Foundation

Novell's Miguel de Icaza will be part of Microsoft's open source foundation's Board of Directors.
Microsoft today is spinning up a new 501.c non-profit effort as a forum to support open source community projects. The new effort is called the CodePlex Foundation and it builds on the efforts of Microsoft's Codeplex site.

The timing of this foundation, during the same week in which it was revealed that Microsoft was allegedly trying to unload anti-Linux patent is somewhat curious, don't you think?

The foundation is initially being funded by Microsoft and will be led by Microsoft's Sam Ramji (**UPDATED** Ramji is leaving Microsoft on September 25th) . Novell's  Miguel de Icaza will be part of the new foundation's Board of Directors (don't forget Microsoft and Novell have an interop and patent deal).

So why does Microsoft need its own open source foundation? And what's the difference vs what they are doing with Codeplex.com anyways?

A Microsoft FAQ on the new foundation notes that Codeplex was started in 2006 as a project hosting site that met the needs of commercial developers. The Foundation is related but is a seperate effort.

"The Foundation is solving similar challenges; ultimately aiming to bring open source and commercial software developers together in a place where they can collaborate," the foundation FAQ states. "This is absolutely independent from the project hosting site, but it is essentially trying to support the same mission. It is just solving a different part of the challenge, a part that Codeplex.com isn't designed to solve."

From a larger point of view, Microsoft's new open source foundation is taking aim at a real problem. That is the problem the problem of participation. Sure there are lots of organization that contribute to open source today, but there is still room for more.

"We believe that commercial software companies and the developers that work for them under-participate in open source projects," Microsoft stated.

I don't disagree with that assessment. That said, I'm not sure Microsoft is the best position to help that issue.

Why start yet another open source foundation, when so many good ones already exist? The Apache Software Foundation and the Eclipse Software Foundation are two prime examples of efforts that already help commercial software vendors contribute and benefit from open source software.

I understand that CodePlex has its own ecosystem, but I would have expected the path to commercialization might have been better served through Microsoft itself rather than some shell open source foundation.

Having an non-profit foundation though is at the core of many great software efforts and I suspect that's what Microsoft is trying to replicate. It's a good idea, but until Microsoft gets serious about being open and transparent on the whole patent issue, they will continue to face resentment from many member of the open source community.

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com.




Tags: open source, Linux, Microsoft, software, Novell


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