June 29, 2006 8:55 AM PDT

Microsoft aims to charm open-source world

Microsoft is redoubling its efforts to persuade business leaders that it is committed to working more closely with the open-source community.

Jerry Fishenden, U.K. technology officer at Microsoft, took to the stage at the Open Source Business Conference in London on Wednesday to promote the technology giant's strategy of cooperating, as well as competing, with open-source companies.

Fishenden told ZDNet UK that the conference was a good opportunity to address the "misconception," as he put it, that Microsoft was anti-open source.

"The issue is not as black-and-white as that," Fishenden said. "We're not saying 'either use Microsoft or use open-source technologies.' We are part of a broad ecosystem. Fifty percent of open-source projects are currently using Microsoft products, for example."

The company cited recent partnerships formed with open-source vendors such as JBoss and MySQL as evidence that it was possible to both compete and collaborate in this space at the same time.

"Take Sun, for instance," Fishenden said. "It's obvious we're still competing with Sun, but we are doing joint work around Web services and interoperability. And we've recently released shared-source licenses for some of our products as well."

Microsoft's Shared Source Initiative covers a range of programs. Some of these licenses allow developers to view, modify and redistribute Microsoft source code, but others are more restrictive. The Reference License, for example, only allows code to be viewed.

Some open-source advocates, such as Richard Stallman, have claimed in the past that developers should approach Microsoft's Shared Source licenses with caution because of these restrictions. Earlier this week, Microsoft launched a site called CodePlex where people can access code made available under a Microsoft shared-source license.

As the premium sponsor of the Open Source Business Conference, Microsoft's open-source offensive was much in evidence, and dominated many conversations among attendees. Few, though, would agree to speak openly about Microsoft.

Graham Taylor, program director of independent open-source body Open Forum Europe, told ZDNet UK that some people were skeptical about Microsoft's involvement with the event.

"I would prefer to see an open-source supporter as the platinum sponsor, but it shows a sign of maturity in the open-source market that Microsoft is getting involved," Taylor said.

But Taylor also thinks Microsoft has a long way to go to gain the trust of the open-source community. "We're not likely to see the leopard change its spots. For instance, (Microsoft) said it supported the idea of an open-document format, but won't support the ISO (International Standards Organization) standard recently introduced to support this."

Ovum open-source analyst Laurent Lachal said the market has forced Microsoft to be more pragmatic in its approach to open source.

"I think it will open source some of its products, in response to the pressure from increased technology convergence," Lachal said. "And it will be increasingly important for it to interact with open-source products and move the discussion about 'open source' onto 'open standards.'"

Miya Knights of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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9 comments

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Posted by mystereojones (46 comments )
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Well they realise that in the name of open source they can do more business
Microsoft realises that in the name of opensource, they can make revenue. Look at RedHat, IBM and other opensource vendors.

I would say instead of controlling opensource, their stratergy is make some other their technology opensource so that people adopt and improve and compete against other opensource.

Microsoft will never open source its OS. It will probably open source

1) .NET framework once java is released to opensource. May be Microsoft will say .NET framework binary and compilers are free for all platforms. But the binaries for different platforms will be provided by their partners.

2) Source code for winforms, asp.net, xaml etc.

a) Allows other platform vendors to integrate well with microsoft OS.

b) These products will allow microsoft sell more of their development tools (visual studio.net)that will work on windows (They will say develop .NET apps on windows but deploy on other platforms!!! or use any opensource editors eclipse!!).

b) Opensourcing the technology also allows them to learn from open source community and incorporate them into the windows OS, so that the windows os serves the applications well.

c) Divide the opensource community from paying all the attention to Java or other opensource technologies.

d) This will allow them to get into enterprises better - on par with Java.

Just some thoughts to ponder.
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Link Flag
They should release DirectX asd open source
They should release DirectX asd open source
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
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Fat chance
That's one of the major reasons that alot of people stick to Windows istead of trying Linux or OSX. MS has managed to lock-in all major game developers to DirectX.
Posted by freemarket--2008 (5058 comments )
Link Flag
"If they really wanted to charm open source,...
... then would open the source to all of their goods."; including the Source-Codes that they probably are having for the IBM's "OS/2" Operating Systems that they are probably holding on to for dead!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
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Charm or cause them to laugh?
I for one, would only like to see them release it on comedy night.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
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until they support ODF
I'm not buying it
Posted by Arrgster (92 comments )
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"I'm not buying it....
... until they support ODF"; actually, you do not even have to bother too much anymore about which direction Microsoft is going as the foundation for the "trajectory" has already been laid; take a look at this example:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ecomstation.com/gallery/index.php?g=OpenOffice.org_2.0_beta&#38;p=5&#38;frpg=1&#38;f=#pic" target="_newWindow">http://www.ecomstation.com/gallery/index.php?g=OpenOffice.org_2.0_beta&#38;p=5&#38;frpg=1&#38;f=#pic</a>
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
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Microsoft anti-open source?
Now, where did that silly idea come from?

Could it be from the Halloween documents, from the discreetly sponsored pro-Windows "studies," the "Get the Facts on Linux" (dissed as a whole lot of blooey), the $100 Mln investment in SCO, and more?

Let's set the record straight: Microsoft has always supported Open Source, Microsoft is one of the pillars of Open Source, Microsoft will always support Open Source.

See you all, got to get back to reading this nice book "1984" by George Orwell.
Posted by Maccess (610 comments )
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