Microsoft: The Great Open-Source Advocate?
Microsoft's launch of the CodePlex Foundation represents the culmination of all the company's open-source related efforts over the last few years, a Microsoft official said.Microsoft's launch of the CodePlex Foundation represents the culmination of all the company's open-source related efforts over the last few years, a Microsoft official said. Sam Ramji, who has been Microsoft's senior director of Platform Strategy, spoke to reporters on a news call and said Microsoft's recent contribution of 20,000 lines of device driver code to the Linux community was a turning point for the organization and helped spur the decision to create an independent foundation. "It made us believe it was time to move ahead," said Ramji, who will be leaving Microsoft on Sept. 25 to become the interim president of the CodePlex Foundation.
The new, open-source CodePlex Foundation is an independent organization focused on the advancement of open-source technology in commercial endeavors.
"While existing foundations and individuals have hosted important Microsoft technology centric projects, I haven't gotten the sense that there's a 'place' where Microsoft-world open source projects have dug out a home. That said, the stated goal of the foundation at this point isn't limited to just Microsoft-centric technologies -- instead the initial charter is focused at helping commercial companies do more open source -- but I'd hope that Microsoft would do some of the initial code and project contributions. There's still a lot more to be ironed out over the interim 100 days, so it'll be important to pay attention to the governance and licensing decisions the interim board goes through as those will really define and help attract the types of people projects who would prop up the CodePlex Foundation long-term."For his part, Ramji said the foundation would "pioneer licensing agreements and processes that help software developers contribute to open source software projects." Yet, he noted that the foundation is "license agnostic" with a default to the BSD license, but that the organization will work with any open source license. He also said the foundation will be technology agnostic and platform agnostic. "The foundation believes that the open-source software development approach will reach its potential worldwide with increased involvement from software companies," Ramji said. "The CodePlex Foundation is one way, and we hope a compelling way, for better collaboration between companies and communities to make this a reality." Meanwhile, Ramji said Microsoft is actively recruiting a replacement to fill the position he is leaving inside Microsoft, but that the work of that team will continue and even grow. "In fact it is mainstreaming" inside of the company, Ramji said. Ramji said in his first 100 days as interim president of the foundation he and the board of directors will actively seek out an executive director to run the organization's day-to-day operations, line up projects, line up sponsors, new board members and advisors, and finalize the foundation's bylaws and principles, among other things. And Ramji said the CodePlex Foundation will be complementary to other open-source foundations. However, Stephen O'Grady, an analyst with RedMonk, offered his thoughts on just how complementary the new foundation can be. Said O'Grady:
"Like many foundations, its success or lack thereof will depend on what developers make of it. The questions I believe they will ask are these: 1.) Is CodePlex truly independent from Microsoft? 2.) How are they differentiated from existing foundations like Apache or Eclipse? 3.) What will the perceptions of my project be if it's hosted there?"