Microsoft Creates "Open Source Community Lead" Position

| by Jonathan Allen Follow 612 Followers on Jun 19, 2007. Estimated reading time: less than one minute |

Microsoft has tapped Garrett Serack as their new Open Source Community Lead. In an attempt to move the company towards open source, Microsoft has charged him with "building and connecting Open Source Communities around Microsoft Platforms".

In the past Microsoft has had a rather antagonistic position in regards to open source. Points of contention include the business model, wherein Microsoft prefers to sell software while open source proponents sell services around the software. Another is the GPL, a type of open source license that is especially incompatible with closed source licenses.

Recently Microsoft has been experimenting heavily with open source in its developer line. Products under open source agreements include much of AJAX for ASP.NET, including the entire control library, IronPython, IronRuby, and the Dynamic Language Runtime.

Apparently Microsoft thinks these experiments have been successful, as they are now starting to push other products to be more open source friendly. Don't expect this to occur overnight however, as Microsoft is a large company with lots of independent teams.

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community? by Stefan Wenig

The successes you mention have so far been development efforts by MS with no community involvement. Shipping with a OSS license is hardly building a OSS community. Just remember the NUnit debacle. It will be interesting if MS finally embraces the existing .NET OSS community instead of competing with it (with or without OSS licenses).

Re: community? by Jonathan Allen

Success is realative. Microsoft most likely continue to accept advice and comments but not ship code submitted by the larger community. John Galloway has a good article on why Microsoft thinks it is too dangerous to get entangled with open source submissions.

The "NUnit debacle" has so many facets it is hard to comment on. On one hand you have people complaining that Microsoft shipped its own MSTest instead of NUnit. On the other hand Microsoft shipped Enterprise Library with unit tests writen for both NUnit and MSTest. Then there is the red herring, TestDriven.NET, which isn't really about NUnit at all but often gets lumped into it.

Re: community? by Stefan Wenig

I've read about that notion before (although I have to admit never in an article with so many mistakes in definitions and conclusions). Bottom line is, others do it too, and IBM, Sun and Novell would make good targets too. To some extend I buy the problems of bundling minor open source projects with large commercial products (Paint.NET with windows, NUnit with VS). However, although IANAL I'm not sure how a copyright/patent infringement of a third party would be so much of a problem for the rest of the product just because it was bundled with it.
Why MS cannot have contributions even in OSS projects that are not bundled with their products is beyond me to understand. If a copyright problem surfaces, you remove the code and get on with it. Every OSS project lives with that risk.
If MS would think that building an OSS community is important enough, they'd find a way. They don't have a record of shying away from legal risk after all. So what conclusions are left? Either it's not important enough to ignore their lawyers veto, or their real agenda is about admitting that the legal risk of OSS is not that big after all.

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