A Brief History of Microsoft Open Source
Microsoft has had an interesting relationship with open source. With time, Microsoft’s open source strategy has been evolving from “strictly opposed” to “coexist” to “me too”. As the involvement of Bill Gates shrunk, I think Microsoft’s openness to open source is increasing.
Until a few years ago, Microsoft was perceived to be anti-open source. In 2003, when Microsoft launched a long PR attack against Linux that seemed to underline such perceptions. It probably was. Or just considered Linux to be a formidable opponent.
In 2004, Microsoft released two software development tools as open source, and observers cheered that things would change. Not exactly.
In 2006, Microsoft acquired Winternals Software LP. Several utilities of their SysInternals Suite which had been open source ceased to be open source.
But again in 2007, Microsoft launched its Shared Source initiative to share source code with third parties that meet certain criteria. A little openness, and that continues to be an active project.
While the vast blogosphere is partly hopeful and partly convinced that Microsoft should open source Windows, and while some experts also are ready to share their plans about how Microsoft should go about it, it is not going to happen any time soon. More than anything else, it is a massive legal hassle.
Microsoft is not on the brink of turning all of its products open source. A casual perusal of the FAQ in the Microsoft Open Source microsite throws light on that fact. Whether or not it is going to happen, as a supporter of open source, I am glad Microsoft has at least come this far.
This guest post was written by Sravan Bhamidipati (twitter), a tech blogger that writes at That Damn PC and Flex888. He’s been a great source of information and help as we work together at b5media and communicate with each other on twitter.