Open-Source Smoke Screen

Despite dissing Linux, Microsoft is using open-source methods.

Between public bouts of dissing Linux, Microsoft quietly is ripping pages from the open-source playbook and taping them to its own.

Examples? The most obvious is the shared-source licensing mechanism. Shared source is no GNU General Public License but does allow companies to use Windows source code if they agree to Microsofts terms. There are other examples of Microsoft using open-source strategies.

Earlier this summer, Microsoft unveiled its ASP .Net Web Matrix "community supported" development tool, aimed at nonprofessional programmers. While Microsoft would be loath to portray its Web Matrix development/test process as akin to the open-source way, Redmond relied on partners to constructively critique daily builds.

Theres more. Microsoft integrated community forums and MSN Messenger into the Web Matrix integrated development environment interface. It got so much positive reinforcement for this that it is likely to provide this kind of community integration in all its developer tools going forward, company officials said.

Last month, Microsoft unveiled a beta of collaborative technology that looks a lot like the VA Software SourceForge development environment favored by open-source programmers. Microsofts GotDotNet Workspaces provides developers with hosted source control (check-in/check-out coordination), bug tracking and community discussion boards. Developers can restrict Workspaces to registered team members only or make them open to any and all comers. Microsoft is working on developing a set of Workspaces-based Web services that will ship concurrently with the Version 1.0 release of Workspaces next year.

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