Microsoft Pulls Open-Source Unit Back Into the Fold

Microsoft announced it is dissolving its MS Open Tech open-source unit, claiming the company has met its goals and is on the right track.

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Microsoft has closed its MS Open Tech subsidiary to bring the staff back into the Microsoft fold.

In a blog post, Jean Paoli, president of MS Open Tech, said Microsoft was subsuming his unit back into the company because it had completed its goal of bringing open source front and center at the parent company.

"Today, MS Open Tech has reached its key goals, and open source technologies and engineering practices are rapidly becoming mainstream across Microsoft," Paoli said. "It's now time for MS Open Tech to rejoin Microsoft Corp., and help the company take its next steps in deepening its engagement with open source and open standards."

Microsoft launched MS Open Tech in 2012 to advance the company's investment in openness, including interoperability, open standards and open source. At the time, Paoli said the new subsidiary represented a long-term commitment to open source at Microsoft. The unit announced its first deliverable, Redis on Windows, in April 2012. But its services as a separate entity are no longer required.

"Today, Microsoft engineers participate in nearly 2,000 open source projects on GitHub and CodePlex combined," Paoli said in his April 17 post. "Through open source collaborations, Microsoft has brought first-class support for Linux to Azure, worked with Docker to integrate it with Azure and Windows, built Azure HDInsight on Apache Hadoop and Linux, and delivered developer tools for Android and iOS, and for Node.js and Python. And Microsoft is actively building open source communities of its own."

Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, which is a major open-source community of tools, projects and collaborative working groups, welcomed the Microsoft news. "I think that this is a good move by Microsoft," Milinkovich said. "It shows that open source is now embraced as mainstream there, as opposed to be something to be feared. MS Open Tech was a bit of an organizational and legal hack to ensure that their open source activities were isolated. That said, it was an effective first step for Microsoft, but one which is no longer necessary."

Perhaps the most significant move Microsoft has made on the open-source front of late is its move to open-source its .NET Framework. Microsoft initially announced plans to open-source components of .NET at its Build 2014 conference in April 2014. At that time, the company also announced the launch of the .NET Foundation, which would oversee the process of taking .NET to the open-source community. Despite the dissolution of MS Open Tech, representatives of the organization will still be involved with the .NET Foundation. Gianugo Rabellino, senior director of open-source communities at Microsoft Open Technologies, will continue as a member of the .NET Foundation's board of directors.

"Through the .NET Foundation, Microsoft has open sourced .NET, and dozens of .NET-based projects, and is bringing them to platforms such as Linux," Paoli said. "We've built a strong open source community around TypeScript, and partnered with projects such as Angular and Ember to bring it to new audiences of developers. We've open sourced technologies such as WinJS and the Windows Driver Frameworks. And we've recently acquired Revolution Analytics, a leader in open source technology for data."