Microsoft Marches Out New Shared Source Project

Business Portal Lite enables access to Microsoft's Solomon ERP system through Safari, Firefox, Mozilla and other non-Windows browsers.

NEWTON, Mass.—Microsoft Corp. announced a new shared source project on Wednesday that enables multiple browsers to be used as a thin-client interface connecting the Microsoft Business Solutions Portal server and the Solomon ERP system.

Jason Matusow, director of Microsofts shared source program, announced at the Open Source Business Conference here the project, Business Portal Lite. The code comes from the Microsoft Business Solutions Solomon team, and the portal provides time, expense approval, alerts, and project profitability tracking and reviewing functionality. The advantage to using the Lite solution is that you can access the Microsoft Solomon back end through Safari, Firefox, Mozilla and other non-Windows browsers, said Matusow, who also wrote about the news on his blog.

"This is compelling and of interest for those in this community and space, but not to the broad public," he said. "It also meets the goal of an interesting community project, and we are taking submissions back from the community."

The Solomon group has more than 600 certified partners servicing more than 15,000 customers, and this release enables the certified partner community to build a common set of technologies for servicing customers heterogeneous environments, he said.

The code is available under the Microsoft Permissive License, one of the three new template shared source licenses that will be used for all shared source projects going forward.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about Microsofts meeting with the Open Source Initiative to discuss the possibility of submitting its licenses for approval.

In his keynote address titled "Share the Love," Matusow said the commercialization of open-source software is making that software less open: It brings with it a level of lock-down as the vendors move to differentiate themselves and add value.

Linux and open source have brought product competition, which is healthy for the market, and open source does provide value and "companies like Microsoft had better wake up and take notice of this," he said.

Shared source comprises more than 80 releases covering a number of projects and under a variety of licenses. There are now more than 600 non-Microsoft projects and more than 2 million developers around this, he said.

"Open source is the same thing as proprietary code in that it belongs to the author, who can choose how to license it," Matusow said.

Turning to the growth in the number of shared source licenses, Matusow talked about the fact that Microsoft has moved back to a template-type model and has decided to offer just three of these from the more than 10 shared source licenses that existed before.

Source code licensing is complicated and code licensed under one type of reciprocal license is not compatible with any code licensed under another reciprocal license, he said.

Open source, and software development in general, is about lots and lots of different communities and, while there are some at Microsoft, "we still have plenty to learn about in this space," Matusow concluded.

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