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Microsoft Preparing to Release Code to Open Source

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News del 31 Marzo 04 Autore: RostoR
Microsoft Preparing to Release Code to Open Source
Articolo di ieri pubblicato su Computerwire che evidenzia le intenzioni di Microsoft su questo dibattuto e caldo argomento anche alla luce dei recenti accadimenti europei. Per leggere l'articolo è necessario avere una registrazione, lo incollo: After years of railing against open source, Microsoft Corp is preparing to shift its stance by releasing code to the open source community. A member of Microsoft's Shared Source Initiative has told ComputerWire open source code is "coming". Stephen Walli, platform's business development manager, added Microsoft would likely release "non core" code - i.e. code that is not a part of the operating system. Walli said software is more than just about selling "the license and the box" and that releasing code would help Microsoft to better engage with customers. "There's a lot [of code] that's just infrastructure. Why wouldn't we sponsor a community? We are getting to deeply engage with the customer," he said. A company spokesperson said code would likely be released under Shared Source. The release of Microsoft code indicates a shift in internal thinking towards, and an acceptance of, open source. At the start of this decade, senior executives including Bill Gates slammed open source claiming it would destroy the commercial software industry. In May 2001 vice president for advanced strategies Craig Mundie said the GNU General Public License (GPL) put intellectual property (IP) in jeopardy while open source resulted in weak and unstable code. Bill Gates went on to describe the GPL as "Pac-man-like", claiming ISV code that came into contact with GPL-licensed open source code must be given away to the community. Such claims were dismissed by open source supporters as an attempt by Microsoft to spread "fear, uncertainty and doubt" or FUD about open source and Linux. Microsoft has indeed downplayed its own use of shared source: Unix Services for Windows, for example, uses 25 GPL tools, including the GCC compiler, and contains OpenBSD code. And even at the height of executive vitriol towards open source in 2001, versions of Microsoft's C Sharp and the CLI for .NET were licensed for non-commercial implementation on FreeBSD. Since making those inflammatory first comments in 2001, Microsoft has modified its tone towards open source with the creation of the Shared Source Initiative. Shared Source is a pseudo open source program enabling partners and customers to view code for Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003, Windows CE 3.0, elements of ASP.NET and Visual Studio, the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) and C Sharp programming language. Shared Source does not allow organizations to modify and re-distribute Microsoft's code, with the exception of OEMs working on consumer devices and using Windows CE. A binary distribution agreement means OEMs can make changes to code that is distributed in product, but that these changes must be returned to Microsoft within six months of a product's launch where they will be made available to all OEMs as part of the CE code base. At the time of Shared Source's launch, program general manager Jason Matusow, commented that open source had created a "healthy examination" of what you can do in the industry with source code. The company's changing attitude comes as Microsoft faces increasing competitive pressure from open source. Customers, especially those in government, believe open source saves them money while resting back greater control over their IT purchasing decision. With open source and Linux systems delivered by multiple suppliers, organizations are no longer forced to rely on a single company, Microsoft, to deliver Windows and core business applications. Shared Source was created in order to let customers view the Windows source code, so customers could answer their own security questions and also feel generally better about buying Windows. In a further attempt to stop customer defections, Microsoft has also launched a "Get the facts" advertising campaign against Linux. Microsoft is using sponsored white papers to "prove" Windows provides a lower total cost of ownership than Linux. Actually giving code to the community, though, would be a further, more official acceptance by Microsoft of open source, something Walli called "business as usual". © ComputerWireTM 2004 Article Date: 30 Mar 2004
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