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Microsoft open source may be good for open sourceJay Lyman, October 26, 2007 @ 1:32 pm ET
It seems we’ve arrived upon Microsoft open source. In the last couple of years, whenever there was discussion of Microsoft’s open source projects and efforts such as CodePlex or Port25, there was typically the standard open source response: it’s not OSI-approved; it’s not real open source. Now, with OSI approval of two Microsoft licenses, the proprietary software giant can legitimately say these projects and programs are open source.
It will be interesting to see whether Microsoft blurs the distinction of its now OSI-approved licenses, the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL) and Microsoft Reciprocal License (Ms-RL), and other licenses used in CodePlex, SourceForge or other projects. There will certainly be the usual Redmond-level scrutiny from developers and open source proponents. One of the underlying benefits of open source software, which is developed, maintained and improved in the open, is that there is far less room to pull any kind of shenanigans. Microsoft and its open source strategists are smart and are surely aware of the magnifying glass hovering around them and use of the term open source. This may also help to further legitimize open source. It’s hard to call it a cancer, communism, intellectual property threat or hobbyist when you’re sinking real dollars into it and most likely, expecting real dollars out. While it seems the scrutiny and bar on what constitutes open source is appropriate, we must remember that Microsoft is not the only potential poser or abuser of open source.
It’s unavoidable that Microsoft will be treated differently, and perhaps that is the price for past offenses and present conflicts. It is most likely, however, that Microsoft will mind its ps and qs, meaning it won’t be calling anything open source unless it truly is. Now the company can legitimately label something ‘Microsoft open source.’ We’ll be watching to see how liberally Redmond and others do or do not make the claim.
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