Microsoft open to open source

Microsoft is considering turning over some of its programs to open-source developers. So far Microsoft has only released two software development tools, but Microsoft isn't stopping there. The very process of making Microsoft products open source contradicts what Microsoft has been saying about the open-source community. No doubt Microsoft is feeling the pressure from Linux and developers, but don't expect to see the source code from Microsoft's cash cows like Office or Windows.

Microsoft Corp. says it is looking to turn over more of its programs to open-source software developers, playing a greater role in a process that the Redmond company has criticized strongly at times in the past. Money-makers like the company's Windows operating system and Office productivity suite aren't on the table -- or anywhere near it. But the company has so far released two software-development tools to the open-source community, and it wants to continue the practice, a Microsoft platform manager told an industry group this week.

"There's more of that on the way," said Microsoft's Stephen Walli, who oversaw the process of releasing those tools under open-source licenses. "And it's not just about developer tools. There's other things that we can be looking at when you actually look at the breadth of source code that we have, the breadth of software that we have that isn't actually core (to Microsoft's) revenue stream." Walli's comments during a panel discussion by the WSA technology trade association Tuesday night underscored the dual nature of Microsoft's approach to open-source software, in which large and small groups of volunteers produce and improve upon computer programs, making the results of their work and the underlying software code available for use and modification by others.

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