We live in strange times, Microsoft is finally changing the way that Windows looks after more than fifteen years, Google is moving into OS territory, and Apple is selling its products like hotcakes (something it certainly wasn’t doing in the 90s).
Amid all this change and strangeness, Microsoft has become quite active in the open source community. You’d think that they’d want to compete against open source projects based on Unix and Linux, since these are competing products to Windows, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Rather recently, Microsoft made the list of top contributors in the open-source community for its aid in open source projects related to technologies like the Linux kernel.
Now Microsoft has even announced it will make a move that puts it even closer into the open source world, they are starting a new subsidiary dedicated to open source projects and standards.
The new subsidiary goes under the name “Microsoft Open Technologies, Incorporated” and will start with around 50-75 employees at first.
Before the negative folks in the Windows community start saying that this move has something to do with a loss in confidence with Windows and the change coming in Windows 8, I’ll stop you.
So what other reason would Microsoft have to benefit open-source projects? Bridging MS-owned properties with open ones, helping develop new projects as experiments, and just having a way to appear “friendlier” while reaching out to developers and users in the open-source world. That’s just a couple reasons.
As Google moves into the OS world and becomes a bigger force, perhaps MS is just looking for other ways to set itself apart from the competition.
No matter what their true reasons or motivations, it is likely good news for the open source community and the advancement of computing technology in general.
The direct words said by Microsoft about the new initiative, by its new President, are as follows:
“We believe that the subsidiary will provide a new way of engaging with open-source communities in a more clearly defined manner,” he said, adding that the effort is about “bridging Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies.”
So, in short, this move makes sense because it can clearly help them reach out in new directions.
It has nothing to do with the Windows side of the business, and no, I’d be very shocked if we ever saw a Microsoft mainstream OS that ran on the Unix/Linux kernel. Of course weirder things could happen, and there was a UNIX variant by Microsoft back in the 80s known under the name Xenix.
What do you think of Microsoft’s new move in creating a subsidiary devoted to open technologies? Share your thoughts below.