August 24, 2006 5:05 PM PDT

Microsoft offers helping hand to Firefox

Mozilla has accepted Microsoft's offer of help toward ensuring interoperability between Firefox and the upcoming Vista operating system.

Microsoft's offer to help came on Saturday when Sam Ramji, director of the company's open-source lab, posted an open letter on a blog used by Mozilla developers. Microsoft offered to open up a new open-source facility at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash., to Mozilla software engineers, including giving them one-on-one time with Microsoft workers. The offer includes help with Mozilla's Thunderbird e-mail client.

In reply, Mike Beltzner, a "phenomenologist" for Mozilla and the company's spokesman on this issue, said, "Yes, we'd definitely be interested in getting some one-to-one support."

But Beltzner pointed out that Mozilla had already "been testing on Vista" with Firefox and Thunderbird "as well as working to ensure that we take advantage of the new 'Default Program' infrastructure."

Default Program is a new feature Microsoft has added to Vista to avoid the problem of applications taking over common functions, such as playing music or browsing the Web, from each other. Rather than letting competing applications fight, it will give the user a single interface for deciding which programs should do which jobs. More details are available in a document, released by the Microsoft Windows Application Experience Group earlier this month.

Beltzner wrote on a blog posting that there were many areas that the Firefox and Thunderbird teams could usefully explore with Microsoft's help, including the "effects of running in the new application security mode, interacting/integrating with InfoCard, integration with the common RSS data store and services (and) integration with the Vista calendar and address book."

Beltzner said he was also excited at the prospect of the new "Microsoft Windows Vista Readiness ISV Lab" as described by Ramji in his original message. "The facility and program that you describe should really help to ensure that we get the proper integration issues looked at for Firefox 2 and Thunderbird 2," Beltzner wrote.

He also warned that one of the main issues for Mozilla was support for third-party software developers. "Do you know if there are any spots for other open-source groups that are using Firefox/XULRunner as a platform such as Songbird and Democracy, or Flock?" Beltzner asked.

"Something like a checklist of the most common OS integration points that have changed from Windows XP would be extremely useful," he pointed out, adding that it's important that this is "accessible to organizations that can't afford to send people to Redmond."

Both Microsoft and Mozilla appear keen to bury the idea that the two are warring tribes when it comes to open source. This recent move by Microsoft to openly welcome Mozilla and its browser, even though Firefox is the principle competition for its own Internet Explorer, appears to be part of a new trend for the company.

For example, at Microsoft's Tech Ed conference in Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday, Frank Arrigo, a development evangelist with the company, was quick to extinguish any suggestion that Microsoft's browser-based "Live" services would not work as well--or at all--with browsers other than Internet Explorer.

"I know for a fact that the Live team themselves spend a lot of cycles on the non-IE browsers. I don't think there is a conspiracy theory saying we are not going to support other browsers," Arrigo said.

The Firefox team has shot down one conspiracy theory. Last Saturday, Ramji wrote that he had posted his invitation online "in case their (Mozilla's) spam filters are set to block @microsoft.com e-mail addresses."

"Heh," Beltzner replied. "No such blocking exists, I assure you."

Colin Barker of ZDNet UK Rupert Goodwins reported from London. ZDNet Australia's Munir Kotadia contributed to this report.

See more CNET content tagged:
application security, Mozilla Corp., Mozilla Thunderbird, Redmond, open source

7 comments

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I'm not so sure....
About Microsoft's "help"

Everytime they help they either steal the design and maek their own propietry version of it (java, among others) or try to run them to the ground.
Posted by michcool125 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
May not be true anymore
Vista's networking or security stack is a complete rewrite. Other software vendors benifit in learning from the new infrastructure. Anyways, Firefox code is available to take a look at, by everyone!! so where is the point of stealing. Firefox would benefit with the knowledge about vista. Unfortunately, previous microsoft behaviour is making it a suspect.

Remember the new guy out there is Ray Ozzie!!! and he has developed applications for non micorosft platforms!!
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Link Flag
don't deny they steal ideas
micro$oft was build on reappropriated (stolen) ideas. after Gates melped Apple with their new Mac gui lo and behold, Windows was born

In fact, i am not trying to redirect the subject, but I would be interested in knowing if MicroSoft has EVER come up with a unique idea! it seems like their "steal an idea, and get it out ASAP" attitude is the problem with all these patches and repatches
Posted by qazwiz (208 comments )
Link Flag
Good For Vista PC Sales
Firefox users are more tech-oriented than the average consumer and some of the PC industry's best customers. These are also people most likely to buy or upgrade systems in response to the Windows Vista release, as long as it gets good reviews. You'll also find a lot of Firefox users among the tech journalists who will be writing and publishing the first reviews when Vista comes out. Keeping Firefox users happy will help Microsoft's bottom line.
Posted by annanemas (79 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"a new trend for the company": reduce lawsuits
"This recent move by Microsoft to openly welcome Mozilla and its browser, even though Firefox is the principle competition for its own Internet Explorer, appears to be part of a new trend for the company."

$500 million here, $500 million there. It adds up when the future is inevitably difficult.



previous story:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Microsoft+reaches+out+to+Firefox+developers/2100-7344_3-6108221.html?tag=nefd.pulse" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Microsoft+reaches+out+to+Firefox+developers/2100-7344_3-6108221.html?tag=nefd.pulse</a>

previous comment:
Killing Netscape Twice!!
Reader post by: javierlopezroman
Posted on: August 24, 2006, 12:29 PM PDT
Story: Microsoft reaches out to Firefox developers
It occured to me that it would look REALLY bad if Microsoft were to lose significant marketshare to a legitimate and strong open source effort, and suddenly have the [competition's] entire application function/perform significantly differently (worse) on thier new OS.

As Microsoft has been nearly-convicted several times (they settle often, don't they) of altering thier codebase to cripple/disable 3rd party applications while improving thier own, it could be argued that such degrading changes have occured yet again to Firefox.

Combined with the Netscape and antitrust history (all of it blurs together), they may be fearing the legitimacy of ANOTHER case against them, a very strong case given the prior legally-acknowledged evidence against them.
Posted by javierlopezroman (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't fall for it
If you think this is anything other than a way for Microsoft to steal
knowledge from the Mozilla programmers, I got land to sell you in
Florida. My expectation is they will tap the brains of these dupes to
rewrite huge chunks of Vista that don't work well with the Internet,
and they'll give back nothing in return. Just ask IBM about co-
developing Win95 - oops, I mean OS/2.
Posted by qprize (237 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
Bill Gates used to work for Apple and this is what i think he did

Bill: hey guys
apple ppl: hey
Bill: can i see how u make all ur product and how u make ur macintosh system
apple ppl: sure *lets him see it*
Bill: THX well guys I QUIT

few years l8r Windows is born
Posted by aziansn4k3 (1 comment )
Link Flag
 

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