Despite helping to launch the Mozilla Foundation and releasing the code to its AOL Server software, America Online has never been synonymous with open source. But a number of new initiatives could change AOLs proprietary image, as the company strives to reach a broader audience on the open Web.
Faced with extending its core business strategy beyond its walled garden and rapidly falling subscriber numbers, AOL is looking outward—rather than inward—to bolster its arsenal of content and services. Specifically, AOL is enlisting the open source community to take over a number of projects.
First on the list are two popular visualization plug-ins found in Winamp, AOLs digital media player that is used by over 60 million people worldwide. Milkdrop and Winamps Advanced Visualization Studio are now free for developers to tweak and utilize under a BSD open source license.
Milkdrops predecessor, known as Geiss, was recently adopted by Yahoo for its Music Engine software. And Yahoo officials say they are now considering making the switch to Milkdrop. Developers of projectM, an OpenGL cross-platform music visualizer, have already begun to improve their software using Milkdrops source code.
“By open sourcing these plug ins, we have empowered the passionate and highly skilled members of the Winamp community to play a direct role in the development of our projects,” AOL spokesperson Deana Graffeo told BetaNews. “Were very excited to see what the community comes up with for Milkdrop and AVS.”