Microsoft Announces, An Open Source Foundation
It's been a busy couple of weeks in the news for Microsoft and its continued efforts towards interoperability. It started with news that Microsoft was selling some Linux patents to a third party -- the end result not looking really positive for them.

But it ended with the announcement of a new not-for-profit foundation based on the CodePlex brand.

The CodePlex Foundation

Was it only a matter of time before we saw something like this come from Microsoft? Since 2006 they have had, a hosted platform for Microsoft-based open source projects. To take that a step further with the introduction of an open source foundation doesn't really seem that surprising.

Especially with Sam Ramji as the interim President. Has it not been Ramji's objective to push Microsoft towards greater interoperability? (Mind you, that's no longer his job.)

While it's true that although Microsoft has funded this new organization, they do not "own" or "run it". But you still know they are involved and that will affect how the open source community receives this new foundation.

The foundation's mission is "enabling the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities". And although many -- but not all -- foundations are based on a specific platform or application, is not.

Instead it has a broader goal, covering all types of software projects, all with an eye to the licensing and intellectual property needs of commercial software vendors.

A Work in Progress

The set-up of the foundation is still a work in progress. What we know is that the foundation is looking for input from the open source community to finalize its plans. This includes:

  • Determining Board Members and Advisory Board members
  • Modification of by-laws and other governing documents
  • Creation of Foundation's Charter

The Charter will indicate what projects will be considered and the process required to get them under the Foundation's microscope. The plan is that projects will cover software other than Microsoft's will be included.

Along with Ramji, current interim board members include Shawn Walker, co-founder of open source Web CMS DotNetNuke, Bill Staples, D. Britton Johnston and Stephanie Davies Boesch from Microsoft, and Miguel de Icaza from Novell.

Learning Opportunities

The Advisory Board currently includes Aaron Fulkerson of MindTouch and Phil Haack of Microsoft, among others. For his part, Haack seems very excited about this new foundation:

"If the foundation succeeds in its mission, I believe it will open the doors for Microsoft to collaborate with and encourage the .NET open source ecosystem in a more meaningful manner. I don’t know what shape that will take in the end, but I believe that removing roadblocks to Microsoft’s participation is required and a great first step."

Well Funded, Opportunity Abounds

Microsoft has offered up US$ 1 million in funding for the foundation. That's a nice chunk of change to get things started.

The next few weeks should see the ironing out the details for this new foundation and we should start to really see what opportunity comes with it.

We'll be watching to see how the open source community reaches out to support this new foundation.