'Open source' and 'Microsoft' used to be like oil and water; the two would never be mixed. But today, Microsoft has shown that it is highly supportive of this community by open sourcing parts of its key products and allowing these platforms to run on its Azure infrastructure.
Last week, Microsoft announced that they would be open sourcing .NET and allowing it to run on OS X and Linux as well - a strategic and widely welcomed move by the Redmond based company. But what’s next for the company’s open source plans? Well, the current conversations are talking about Bing and seeing what parts of that system could benefit by being open sourced.
If Microsoft does go through with the current conversations and takes parts of its Bing engine and opens it up to the community, they will not open up any assets that will allow you to better understand their page ranking algorithms. SEO wizards: if it happens, it will not help you at all.
While it seems crazy to open up your search technology, if you think about it, Microsoft doesn’t really have much to lose.
Microsoft doesn’t really have much to lose First off, it’s insanely complex to build a search engine, it’s not something you whip up in a weekend and off you go. It requires significant infrastructure and the market has huge barriers to entry.
From Microsoft’s position, Bing search is not a core revenue driver like Windows or Office, it’s a supplementary product that ties many platforms together much like OneDrive. Yes, the engine technically does make money now, but it’s not in the same league as many other revenue drivers for the company.
And what does Microsoft really have to lose here? Google is the dominant player in the market and Bing is having a tough time making serious inroads in market share beyond its current user base. And with the engine not being a key business center from a revenue perspective, by going open source, they stand to gain more than they could lose.
What will be open sourced if plans do materialize? The details are still a bit fuzzy here but it’s likely related to the question of how to efficiently deal with large quantities of data. It will be back-end technology and that's about all we know for now.
There is no timeline for when Microsoft will make a decision on whether or not Bing will open its doors to the outside world but know that the conversation has taken place, multiple times, and is being considered.