Microsoft's Next Dabble In Open Source: Oxite - InformationWeek

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12/12/2008
03:35 PM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Microsoft's Next Dabble In Open Source: Oxite

It sounds like the name of an over-the-counter drug, doesn't it? Oxite's actually the name of a Microsoft content management platform that runs on .NET and has been released under the OSI-approved MPL. What I'm wondering is how it will shape up agains

It sounds like the name of an over-the-counter drug, doesn't it? Oxite's actually the name of a Microsoft content management platform that runs on .NET and has been released under the OSI-approved MPL. What I'm wondering is how it will shape up against other solutions where the whole stack's open, not just the top.

Call it another example of Microsoft's gradual drift toward using open source in some form -- not a bad thing, but, as always, hindered by the fact that other people already are inhabiting that space with a good deal more comfort. This isn't simply because they've had a decade-long head start, but because the stack they use is entirely open from top to bottom.

A friend of mine recently launched a site using MediaWiki. The top part of the stack -- the wiki itself -- was free. But so was the database server, the Web server, the operating system layer, and so on. With Oxite, the CMS itself is free, but many of the bits in the rest of the stack -- especially the OS -- aren't. That limits its usefulness to people who already have some existing investment in Microsoft's stack, or are willing to go in that direction.

This probably sounds like an argument in favor of Microsoft opening its entire stack as a competitive measure. Not gonna happen -- you know it, I know it, Steve B. knows it. But that may not be a requirement: if they're free enough, that may be all people need. If you already have the Windows platform in some fashion, and you don't mind going with a slightly-constrained database server as the default choice (read: SQL Server Express), that may, in fact, be more attractive to some than going with a whole separate stack.

Earlier in the week when I met with Microsoft, I surprised them -- especially Peter Galli -- when I mentioned Oxite. It was so new even the folks in the Platform Strategy division hadn't yet heard of it, but they were mighty interested in it once they knew. (I chalk this up to the sheer size of Microsoft as a company: it's often hard if not downright impossible to know what everyone else is doing.) Let's see if this turns into an argument to make more of Microsoft's products open instead of merely free enough.

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