If the new subsidiary dedicated to openness or addition of support for several open source technologies (including Linux) to Azure didn’t quite convince you that Microsoft has changed its stripes about open source, perhaps its latest move will push you over the edge. The company has open sourced its popular .Net entity framework.

Open Source Moves

It’s no secret that Microsoft hasn’t always embraced open source. Only a few years ago, the company was busy pointing fingers at open source for its declining sales numbers; things have certainly changed. Last year Microsoft made several development tools and portions of its web development platform, ASP.Net, open source. The Seattle giant also generated buzz by announcing it was porting Javascript framework Node.js and uber popular big data tool Hadoop to Windows.

Now, Microsoft has made entity framework, a development library that shields developers from the low-level details of manipulating data, open source. The framework is moving under the control of Microsoft Open Technologies, the open source division the company launched earlier this year. Making a single development tool open source isn’t necessarily big news, but the move is yet another sign that Microsoft is making changes at all levels to embrace open source.

Why Did Microsoft Open Up

Microsoft’s new, more open stance isn’t just about being a good technology citizen, the move is necessary for the company’s survival. Open source tools have dramatically increased in popularity with developers, especially in the web space, and in the enterprise.

Microsoft realized it could attract a wider audience for its tools and services if it abandoned its isolationist policies. Developers were no longer willing to choose Microsoft’s platform at the expense of abandoning all others. If a platform is unattractive to developers, eventually it will impact the demand for Microsoft’s products at the organizations that employ those developers -- something Microsoft could not afford.

Although many people associate open source with free, open source has become big business. Red Hat is a billion dollar business. Hadoop is one of the most popular tools for big data. Organizations dedicated to providing support and value added services for open source are emerging at a rapid pace. Traditional IT organizations are incorporating open source products into their portfolios. The market continues to validate the value of open source. However, the increased use by corporations also has the potential to change the very nature of open source. Is corporate involvement hurting or helping open source? What are your thoughts?