The Redmond software giant is making its Windows installer technology available under OSI's Common Public License.
On Monday, Microsoft released some of its code under an open-source license, and posted it on SourceForge, the open-source code repository.
To date, Microsoft has made its source code available under a variety of licensing mechanisms, all under its "shared source" umbrella. But until today, the company had not released code under what is commonly considered a true open-source license.
Microsoft made available an internally developed product called the Windows Installer XML (WiX) to SourceForge. The code is downloadable here.
WiX is a toolset for building Windows installation packages from XML source code. It runs on Windows NT and Windows 2000.
"Weve been learning from open source about the importance of sharing code with developers," said Jason Matusow, manager of Microsofts shared source initiative. "We know its important to have a full-spectrum approach" to licensing software under shared source, he added.
"Each product team across Microsoft needs to do what makes sense," said Matusow. Some are holding source code close to the vest. Others are issuing it under modified BSD licenses. In other cases, teams are releasing it under customized licenses, as with Windows CE Premium, he explained.
A number of Microsoft teams from across the company including the Yukon database, Office 12, Exchange "Kodiak," Update Services and Xbox divisions have employed WiX in building their products, Matusow noted.
Word that Microsoft might be preparing to release some of its "noncore" code via an open-source licensing mechanism first leaked last week.
The decision to release WiX on SourceForge isnt as far-fetched as it might seem, Matusow claimed.
More than 25 percent of current SourceForge projects are Windows-related, Matusow said. Because WiX isnt a .Net project, per se, Microsoft decided against releasing the WiX code on its own SourceForge alternative, called GotDotNet Workspaces.
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