Microsoft has a secret, although it's not completely secret. They are getting ready to offer a new open source content management application code named Orchard.

The project, which will be discussed at next week's TechEd Europe, is a "new effort to produce free, open source, reusable components and a full-featured CMS application built on these components to produce a variety of different types of web sites."

It's hard to tell from the session description if this project is already well underway or just getting kicked off at the conference. The session includes an interactive discussion that allows developers to get "in on the ground floor".

ZDNet's Mary Joe Foley tried to get more details from Microsoft, but they remain mum on the subject, even ignoring the question of whether Orchard is just a new name for Oxite, the open source Web CMS Microsoft announced back in December last year.

Learning Opportunities

As Foley suggests, the timing is just right for Orchard as it could become one of the first projects announced for the new CodePlex Foundation. The Foundation, which has been established to "enable the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities", has released the first working draft of its Project Acceptance and Operation Guidelines.

Microsoft is fairly good at keeping secrets, so we may just have to wait until November 11, when the TechEd Europe Session happens, to get all the details on Project Orchard. As soon as we get the goods, we'll pass them on to you.