Feeds

Can Microsoft 'do' open source by 2015?

Consistency and commitment needed

The essential guide to IT transformation

The recently appointed head of Microsoft's global Linux and open source team hopes the company will have a clear and comprehensible open source strategy by 2015.

Sam Ramji wants people to clearly understand what projects the company is contributing to, and what code Microsoft is making available - along with the terms - on a routine basis.

It seems Ramji is talking about people both inside and outside Microsoft knowing what’s going on.

"We don't have hard rules... right now, it's still careful judgment case by case. By 2015, I think it would be set up," he told Reg Dev, just before his promotion.

"It'll be understood, woven in to the fabric and in product-development cycles, so it's well understood: 'Here is the parts of our product that will be open source.”

Sam Ramji

Ramji: no hard rules

That would be a major improvement on today. To the outside observer, Microsoft is operating in its support of open source on a case-by-case basis. It sponsors a show here but not there - in March it sponsored the Open Source Business Conference, for example, but not EclipseCon.

It is working selectively with open source projects. At EclipseCon, Ramji announced Microsoft will offer the Eclipse Standard Widget Toolkit project "direct" support from its engineering teams and open source software lab. But it's not actually joining anything at Eclipse.

The company has taken to publishing huge tracts of technical information in an apparent rush of "openness". Six hundred thousand pages of documentation for its implementation of Extensible Application Markup Language were released this spring under its Open Specification Promise, and the company also released 30,000 pages on its Windows APIs and protocols.

The documentation, though, sits out there like a rights and royalties landmine waiting to go off. It is unclear what royalties accompany the documents. Developers we’ve spoken to - Zend Technologies’ co-founder and chief technology officer Andi Gutmans and MuleSource chief exec Dave Rosenberg to name two - are concerned that individuals might be forced into paying Microsoft for inadvertently using techniques that happen to be already “owned” by Microsoft and are listed in these documents.

Clearly, much refinement is needed here.

Will Microsoft release more code? Will it stop flirting with open source projects, and actually commit full-time? And what about the big two: open sourcing Windows and Office, and actually releasing its code under independent licensing rather than licenses devised by Microsoft?

Ramji said Microsoft is looking at whether the AJAX SDK and the sample kit should be opened. He's "not closing off" possibilities when it comes to Eclipse. And Microsoft is in "on-going dialog" with community members over making it easier to find the royalties in its documents.

These are hardly commitments of the solid or major variety.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?