SilverStripe (newssite) and Microsoft (newssite) announced that SilverStripe Content Management System has achieved Windows Server 2008 R2 certification. Successfully completing the testing positions SilverStripe as the first open source web application to achieve certification on the platform. The certification also represents a continuing shift in Microsoft’s stance toward the open source market.

Microsoft's Open Source Strategy

A few years can make a big difference. For years, mentioning the Microsoft open source strategy, frankly, sounded like an oxymoron. Microsoft was frequently cited as a chief enemy to those who liked to promote, produce and consume open source products. Lately, however, the Seattle giant is trying to play nice.

Microsoft set up Port25 to communicate its open source activities and CodePlex to host open source projects. Microsoft has contributed 20,000 lines of device driver code to the Linux kernel so Linux can run on Hyper-V, Microsoft's virtualization platform. The company participated extensively in the furthering of a multitude of Web Services standards that enable interoperability between the Windows Web Services stack and popular Java implementations like Apache’s Axis. Even Microsoft’s web platform is embracing open source. The IIS web platform installer features 23 open source applications out of a total of 25; and, Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform, supports Apache software, the MySQL database and PHP.

Microsoft’s change in position isn’t necessarily altruistic. Microsoft’s new open strategy appears to be aimed at expanding interoperability. With open source products representing over 20% of the software market, it’s likely a smart move. The organization is placing a heavy focus on its value as an enterprise platform, making the open source stance just a portion of the larger platform centric business model. The more products supporting integration for Microsoft platforms, the better.

The Benefits for Open Source Solutions

Microsoft’s support for open source doesn’t just benefit the company. For many open source products, like the newly certified SilverStripe, compatibility with Windows expands the potential market for the technology, creating additional revenue opportunities. In the case of SilverStripe, 40% of deployments were on the Microsoft, so officially supporting the platform was an important component of the product’s long-term growth.

Even open source projects that don’t have a large deployment on Windows need to consider the platform. The Windows operating system is prolific in business and government organizations, and many want to use solutions from multiple vendors, including open source, while simultaneously leveraging their investment in Microsoft technologies. When Windows isn’t supported, many organizations abandon the product or work in frustration to address compatibility issues. Therefore, for an increasing percentage of open source projects and customers, support for Microsoft technologies is becoming an imperative.

SilverStripe’s Journey

SilverStripe achieved certification for Windows Server 2008 R2 in June 2010 after delivering the website for the Democratic National Convention with Microsoft in 2008 and forming a Joint Development Program with the company later. Previously, Microsoft concentrated on certifying natively executable software. Only a few web applications have achieved the certification, and, to date none has been open source.

This move by SilverStripe and Microsoft may represent the first wave in a tsunami of open source products that embrace their former adversary. Do you think this movement will ultimately have big benefits for the open source community?