Looking at Microsoft a few years ago, one would have a hard time imagining that the company would be so friendly towards open-source software as it is today. Since admitting to loving Linux to outright buying one of the largest open-source development platforms on the internet, Microsoft has quickly shifted to be one of the biggest supporters of transparent development that anyone can contribute to.
Now, according to a report from ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, it looks like the Redmond company is looking to go even further by adopting some principles from open-source development and applying them inside its own company. Called Inner Source, this kind of approach isn't exactly new, and it essentially means that teams inside Microsoft can freely share and edit each other's code, create new branches based on existing code, and more.
As the name implies, Inner Source differs from typical open source software because it doesn't necessarily have to be shared with the general public. Instead, its main goal is to help combine the development efforts of different teams inside the company itself, each making the changes as they deem necessary. It's like open source but limited to a comparatively small crowd.
As reported by Foley, Microsoft has posted a couple of job offerings in recent months, clearly indicating the company's interest in adopting Inner Source principles and practices. The first was for a Program Manager, posted in November of last year, but a more recent offer from just last week makes plain what Microsoft is attempting to do:
Over the past few years Microsoft has made great progress in open source. Teams who have learned to embrace open source as a set of best development practices are now looking with great interest at inner source as they want to use the same approach and tools they have grown accustomed to for their internal and proprietary efforts.
According to that same job offer, the company's One Engineering System (1ES) team is looking to make Inner Source core to how development is done inside Microsoft through the Inner Source Initiative. According to a tweet from Ross Gardler, Principal Program Manager for Azure, the ISI will be headed by Gianugo Rudellino, who is currently the Director of Accessibility for Microsoft's Cloud+Enterprise Division. This has yet to be confirmed by Microsoft, however.
This could be a radical change to how Microsoft's software development is done, and, hopefully, bring a little more synergy to the company's range of products and services. That, however, remains to be seen.