informa
/
2 MIN READ
Commentary

Open Source Installs, Courtesy Of ... Microsoft?

Earlier this week Microsoft took another step toward making open source part of its balanced breakfast: it introduced the Web Platform Installer. It not only installs Microsoft's own Web stack, but a slew of common open-source Web apps. Prepare to see more flying pigs, I say.

Earlier this week Microsoft took another step toward making open source part of its balanced breakfast: it introduced the Web Platform Installer. It not only installs Microsoft's own Web stack, but a slew of common open-source Web apps. Prepare to see more flying pigs, I say.

The package is actually quite a clever arrangement. According to the MSDN blog post about it, it installs ".NET Framework 3.5 SP1, IIS7.0 and Extensions, IIS FastCGI, Visual Web Developer 2008, SQL Server 2008 Express, SQL Server Management Studio, ASP.NET MVC and Silverlight Tools" -- in short, the stack of software Microsoft uses for Web development. But it also obtains and installs for you, at your request, the following open source Web apps: DotNetNuke, Drupal, Gallery, Graffiti, osCommerce, PHPBB, and WordPress, with "new applications ... evaluated and added to the Web AI Gallery regularly."

One might think this means Microsoft is now dabbling in the realm of being an open source provider. Not exactly. It's not distributing the programs itself (and certainly not providing support for them) -- it's just providing an installer that retrieves the programs in question from their respective creators and installs them for you.

What's most interesting -- and probably predictable, come to think of it -- is that these apps are most likely being installed and configured to run with IIS and SQL Server rather than Apache and MySQL. I'd assume anyone who knows how to set such things up for themselves won't need a tool like this, though.

Watching Microsoft try to ease its way into an accommodating relationship with open source has been a mixed bag. A big part of that is plain old inertia. So much of what Microsoft is, and most likely will be, is about proprietary software -- and it's not really up to it alone to depart from that model. Its big revenue generator is the Windows platform and the apps it sells that are tailored specifically for it, all of which cannot be had anywhere else.

Here and there, though, there are signs that the monolith is becoming that much less, well, monolithic. I don't see it as anything revolutionary, but I do see it as something to keep our attention turned to -- and to use. And I suspect it'll be just the first of many such flying pigs.

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/syegulalp