Journal: Microsoft Creates Open Source Software Foundation

Commerce, Reform, Strategy, Technologies
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September 11, 2009 7:10 AM PDT

Microsoft sets up open-source foundation

Microsoft has created the nonprofit CodePlex Foundation to target increased communication between open-source communities and software companies.

Citing an under-representation of commercial software companies and their employees in open source, the CodePlex Foundation aims to work with particular projects to bridge the gap between the open-source and commercial worlds.

The Redmond giant has contributed $1 million to the foundation and has filled out its board and advisory panel with many Microsoft staffers, including Sam Ramji, who is leaving Microsoft as its open-source point man but is also becoming CodePlex Foundation's interim president.

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Brief History of Open Source at Microsoft

Initially, it was Jason Matusow who took the bullets for Microsoft (and protests/pickets) as it cut its teeth on open-source engagement. Later, Bill Hilf took the reins and moved Microsoft's open-source involvement from discursive engagement to practical deployment: the company opened its open-source interoperability lab, and Hilf lobbied to partner with a variety of open-source companies.

Then came Ramji, who brought open-source credibility to his role at Microsoft, having used it extensively at a previous start-up. Ramji helped to kick off CodePlex, Microsoft's open-source code hosting site and has actively educated Microsoft on open source as much as he has worked with the open-source community to understand Microsoft. (Ramji is also becoming interim president of Microsoft's newly created CodePlex Foundation.)

Microsoft, as Hilf explained Thursday in announcing Ramji's departure, is far more advanced in its open-source activities than it once was…

Phi Beta Iota: Microsoft has been very slow to recognize that it has garnered all the cash it needs from Stone Age software, and now has literally infinite possibilities in front of it if it takes a clean sheet approach, abandons all existing Microsoft code, and moves toward an elegant implementation of a true Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) grid that includes a Nokia alliance, a cloud that is not controlled by Google, an Amazon alliance, and a commitment to create the World Brain and EarthGame as a service of common concern, in which the early warning (questions) and the ability to make sense in real time and near real time are what is monetized.  The genius of Sam Ranji not-with-standing, the new Foundation is half-pregnant and not likely to lead to world-changing outcomes.

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