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Microsoft Births Open-Source Subsidiary

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It looks like the folks at Redmond have declared that it's time to wrap their arms around the open source philosophy. Microsoft and open source? Say what? Seems like they're on a streak, with the announcement of ASP.NET MVC, Web API, and Razor being available on CodePlex last week and recent news that Microsoft is ranked as one of the top contributors to Linux.

Yesterday, they announced that they're in the works of forming a new subsidiary by shifting some of their Interoperability Strategy team to a new group, aptly named: Microsoft Open Source Technologies, Inc. This conglomerate, to be headed by current team lead Jean Paoli, will be made up of about 50 to 75 internal employees. 

 "The subsidiary provides a new way of engaging in a more clearly defined manner. This new structure will help facilitate the interaction between Microsoft's proprietary development processes and the company's open innovation efforts and relationships with open source and open standards communities,"

-- Jean Paoli

This isn't the first venture into open source for the Redmond giants, however; Microsoft has been working with groups such as the Outercurve Foundation to create CodePlex as well as the Apache Software Foundation. Relationships with the Linux community haven't always been the strongest, but even that seems to be on the rise. But the big question is: why now? Some are skeptical when it comes to Microsoft's intentions.

Al Hilwa of IDC thinks the subsidiary may be a result of legal issues with open source. He claims that there would be a certain legal overview associated with open source devs working for Microsoft directly that clashes with traditional 'open source agility.'

"This is an interesting development. It suggests to me that this arrangement is the best one they could come up with to deal with issues Microsoft lawyers may have with open source code isolation and IP protection." -- Al Hilwa

What do you think? Is Microsoft truly opening its doors to open source or simply saving some cash intended for their legal team?

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Prasant Lokinendi.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)