How far wide open is Microsoft going?
Open source and behemoth scale enterprises generally tend to go together like X Factor contestants and musical credibility. But, amidst all the litigation and dubious API claims, one giant has apparently taken a stab at cleaning up the status-quo. In an open email to all Microsoft employees, CEO Stay Nadella announced that he is working to “evolve” the company’s organisation and culture.
The news of change come amid the wake of Microsoft’s recent announcement cut its workforce by 18,000. Although Microsoft has already loosely been involved in open source for some time, this marks what may the beginning of a genuine effort to commit to the open source movement.
In addition to its own CodePlex platform, the company has begun making open-source projects available via a GitHub profile which it launched for the first time last year. It joins the ranks of https://github.com/azure and https://github.com/MSOpenTech.
Of course, the as-yet to be populated page is a hardly inspiring marker of change, in a year marked by an tumultuous Google-Oracle copyright case verdict that could have grave implications for open development as a whole, it’s at least positive to see one market leader making a stand in its favour. Right? Well, not exactly.
News of Microsoft’s has been welcomed by on Reddit, albeit with sensible dose of scepticism, with much of the community commenting on rumours that Microsoft developers were previously “forbidden to look at open source”.
“[I]t is called contamination,” one Reddit user writes. “[I]f you read some open code and reimplement it, that can be the same as copying the code into your project. Obviously, most employers point out this only applies to similar software - of [sic] you make ms office, reading openoffice code would be sketchy.”
Or as another cheery soul put it,
"Microsoft: three decades of evil.
And now, hey, all's forgiven, we have a github account.
Quite. Just how far Microsoft intends to take this new policy remains to be seen. After all, we’ve seen how fast and loose Oracle’s played with the open source concept in the past, and Microsoft doesn’t exactly have a flawless track record when it comes to corporate ethics - but we’re willing to be surprised.