For the past four years, my wife has wondered if I might not be the brightest bulb in the marquee as I have traveled the world representing Microsoft at open source conferences and events. Yet, as the Director of Shared Source for Microsoft, I have found the interaction with the open source community to be far more productive than combative.
In the early days of our Shared Source Initiative (SSI) there was far more controversy than there is today surrounding our releasing of source code. At this point, we have 17 official SSI offerings that reach more than 1,500,000 developers. Of the 17 offering, 12 have derivative rights associated with them and some are posted under OSI-approved licenses.
Our intent has never been to open source Microsoft. Rather, we have focused on listening to our customers’ requests and understanding what it means to share intellectual property assets broadly. Given that there are >55 OSI-approved open source licenses, we have never felt constrained in how we can approach the licensing of source code.
Open source presents an interesting development methodology, a convoluted world of source code licenses and a complicated business model. It is many things to many people—this is no different within Microsoft. Open source products and technologies compete with our products and technologies, which clouds the picture for many people, both internally and externally. Open source, as a development model, is flawed for the production of certain classes of software but compelling for others. Some Microsoft groups have chosen to use OSS components within their products (Services for Unix); others participate in OSS projects directly (Microsoft Research).
This does not make us either for or against open source. We are “for” Microsoft’s customers and partners. We are “for” understanding better ways to engage with various communities. We are “for” driving value for our shareholders.
For years, many in the OSS community have asked me to blog to give insight into how we approach OSS and Shared Source. I look forward to the response from the community on what I blog. As issues arise in the OSS world related to Microsoft I will be happy to comment. Also, I’ll keep you apprised on what is happening in Shared Source as we continue to expand the initiative.
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.