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Microsoft Joins the Open Source Initiative

Microsoft this week announced that the company has joined the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

The move is yet another milestone in the company's years-long transformation into a more open organization, a far cry from how it used to be perceived -- especially by developers.

The nonprofit OSI is involved in many aspects of the open source movement, including community building, education and public advocacy, among other roles. It's probably best known for maintaining the Open Source Definition, which details the criteria for the distribution terms that open source software must comply with.

"The work that the Open Source Initiative does is vital to the evolution and success of open source as a first-class element in the software industry," Microsoft said in a blog post this week. "As Microsoft engages with open source communities more broadly and deeply, we are excited to support the Open Source Initiative's efforts and to take part in the OSI community."

The OSI said Microsoft has a long history of working with the organization, going back some 12 years, but it was probably the release of the Microsoft .NET Framework in 2014 that brought that participation to light for many in the open source community.

The organization also pointed to several other Microsoft open source initiatives, such as: bringing Bash/Linux to Windows 10; expanding support for Linux and open source workloads on the Azure cloud; the open sourcing of Visual Studio Code and Typescript; and many more. Also, Microsoft previously joined the Linux Foundation and frequently partners with other companies on open source projects, including Canonical, Red Hat and SUSE.

Listing the company's GitHub projects, for example, results in 47 pages of different offerings that total well over 1,000 items.

Microsoft has gone all in the last few years with open source partnership, as evidented by its "Microsoft + Open" Web site, an "Open Source at Microsoft" Web site and executives such as Scott Hanselman tasked with furthering open source efforts at the company. Hanselman famously outlined his thoughts on open source and Microsoft haters in the 2014 blog post "Microsoft killed my Pappy."

He also made his philosophy clear in a Hacker News comment that read:

It's worth noting that under Satya [Ed: And ScottGu] (in my org, Cloud and Enterprise) we open sourced ASP.NET, use 50+ OSS libraries in Visual Studio, have all the Azure cloud SDKs on GitHub, and on and on. We made Portable Libraries happen and now share code between iOS, Android, and Windows. This is not your grandfather's MSFT, and now the dude who helped us (Azure) change things in a fundamentally non-MSFT and totally awesome way is in charge. I'm stoked -- big things coming, I think.

While Microsoft has made great strides reaching out to the open source community, Microsoft said that it's just beginning on a new initiative for the company. "Today's announcement represents one more step in Microsoft's open source journey and our increased role in advocacy for the use, contribution, and release of open source software, both with our customers and the ecosystem at large," said the company in a released statement.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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