Microsoft Reaches Out to OSS With Web Site

Microsoft: friend of open source software (OSS)? That's what a new Web site from the world's largest proprietary software company would have you believe.

The site, titled "Open Source at Microsoft," went live Thursday, according to Bill Hilf, General Manager of Platform Strategy at Microsoft. The new site, Hilf wrote in a blog entry, "clearly outlines Microsoft's position on OSS by providing specific information about Microsoft, the OSS community and the interaction between the two."

The Web site, which can be found here, has four main sections currently: Participating, Partnering, Growing and Learning. In each section, Microsoft stresses how it interacts with the OSS community and various vendors. Microsoft is also at the ready to "help technology businesses succeed," even OSS companies; as long as they can pay for it, of course.

To Microsoft, it's about choice: as one blurb on the site says, "By embracing diverse application development and business models, Microsoft provides a world of choice in which individuals and organizations can pursue their goals based on what uniquely inspires them."

As long as those goals don't tread on Microsoft patents, apparently. Microsoft opened Pandora's Box last May when it claimed that Linux and other OSS violated 235 of its software patents. Since then, Microsoft has signed a number of agreements that will protect users of certain OSS from any Microsoft claims of patent infringement. Deals have been consummated with Linux developers and distributors like Novell, Linspire and Xandros.

Following on the heels of those agreements, a number of Linux companies refused to deal with Microsoft. Then, in early June, Microsoft beat the stick on the hornet's nest even more when it announced that it did not recognize the new license governing OSS known as General Public License Version 3, or GPLv3.

But, according to the new Web site, everything is peachy between Microsoft and the OSS community.

About the Author

Keith Ward is editor of Virtualization Review magazine. You can contact Keith at [email protected].