Microsoft Takes Baby 'Open' Steps - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Applications
Commentary
1/25/2006
05:36 PM
Commentary
Commentary
Commentary
50%
50%

Microsoft Takes Baby 'Open' Steps

One way to win back some industry kudos might be to more fully embrace the world of open-source software that Microsoft has long been fighting. Perhaps this is one small step in that direction.

Microsoft's announcement that it will be providing access to some of its source code was a bit of a shock, I must admit. If anyone had asked me 10 years ago what the chances were of this happening, I would have made reference to pigs flying and other unlikely events.

Thanks to the twin wonders of European intractability and modern science, here we are.Make no mistake; Microsoft isn't opening up its entire arsenal of source code for the world to see--at least, not yet. In fact, some observers have been quoted as saying that it's all just a ploy to keep European Union lawyers busy while the company figures out another way of avoiding the hefty fines the EU has promised to levy if the company didn't satisfactorily respond to antitrust charges.

But still, it's a start, and it's a first. According to some published reports, Microsoft will--for a fee--allow rivals to see some source code from Windows server and desktop operating systems. The code is related to communications among servers and other specific functions; it's not a free-for-all. Anyone who wants a peek still has to sign a nondisclosure form, and they can look but not touch. In other words, this isn't license to use the code, it's a license to inspect it.

Still, for a company that's described its source code as a "crown jewel," this is a fairly radical concession.

What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, when Microsoft was sitting on top of the world, then-has-been IBM was investing heavily in open-source and other types of iniatives not traditionally associated with the Big Blue Behemoth. IBM's now reaping the rewards of a more open environment, and eventually perhaps Microsoft will too.

Like IBM did before it, Microsoft has lost a good deal of its momentum. As with many a wild child, the once-radical Microsoft has become large and staid and has an installed base to contend with. There are plenty of people who are fans, but there are also plenty who dislike the company, its products and its licensing and support policies.

One way to win back some industry kudos might be to more fully embrace the world of open-source software that Microsoft has long been fighting. Perhaps this is one small step in that direction.

Speaking of momentum, the current tech darling, Google, seems to me to be speaking out of both sides of its substantial being. On one hand it's fighting the subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice that wants aggregate search data regarding a child-pornography law, saying the request 'overreaches' and that the company is concerned about its customers' privacy.

On the other hand, Google launched a search engine in China that censors material about human rights, Tibet, and other topics sensitive to Beijing. Google's defending its actions by saying it's a trade-off that gives Chinese customers access to other information--just not the information the Chinese government finds offensive.

So which is it? Either the company is about customers' rights, or it's about adhering to the law of whatever land in which it's doing business, even if it means "doing evil," in violation of its own corporate motto. Something seems fishy to me.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.One way to win back some industry kudos might be to more fully embrace the world of open-source software that Microsoft has long been fighting. Perhaps this is one small step in that direction.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Commentary
Get Your Enterprise Ready for 5G
Mary E. Shacklett, Mary E. Shacklett,  1/14/2020
Commentary
Modern App Dev: An Enterprise Guide
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  1/5/2020
Slideshows
9 Ways to Improve IT and Operational Efficiencies in 2020
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  1/2/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll