Why Microsoft is publishing Open Source?

This blog post is the fifth in a series of six blog posts highlighting various aspects of Microsoft’s open source strategy.

STB13_ShippingContainer_08 Previous posts in this series have explained the open approach Microsoft takes on cloud and how Microsoft is using open source software to build its products and services. What about publishing open source projects and software?

Various product groups within Microsoft have different motives to publish software as open source. Different motives also imply varying levels of community interaction.



The simplest motive is to allow developers to learn, inspect, debug and integrate the software more effectively with other solutions. This motive leads usually to a one-way flow of code from the Microsoft product group to external developers. The .NET Reference Source is an example of a read-only source code repository designed to allow developers access to source code to allow them to expand the functionality of open source .NET Core library. These initiatives are often called ‘shared source’ as they are one-way. Also the source code for Windows operating system and many enterprise software products is shared under more restricted shared source model that provides the source code for analysis and inspection in Microsoft provided labs.



Another motive is to create tighter feedback loop with developers to ensure faster development and better suitability to customer need while retaining the overall product roadmap ownership. For example the Azure SDK’s for various programming languages follow this model. In addition to using the product, the Azure SDK projects on GitHub invite developers to submit feature requests, unit tests, bugs and code to fix them, verifying bug fixes and doing code reviews.



Third motive is to use the community to foster innovation. This requires relinquishing some or all control of the product roadmap to the community. This is often achieved via a foundation serving as the owner and custodian of the project. One such foundation is the Outercurve Foundation, who’s a custodian of 28 open source projects like NuGet, Orchard and ChronoZoom. Outercurve has small staff, developer mentors and a board of directors from Microsoft, Red Hat and Apigee.


About the writer: Pasi Mäkinen, Open Source Lead, Microsoft Western Europe, is working with customers and partners to drive open source based workloads on Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Contact at pasi.makinen@microsoft.com or follow at Twitter @pasimak. Check the rest of the Openness story at: http://microsoft.com/openness. Find fresh and upcoming webinars on Open Source and Azure here: https://info.microsoft.com/WE-OSSonAzure.html.


To read the other blog posts in this series, please click the links:

Microsoft has open approach to cloud

Providing Trusted Open Cloud

Support for Open Source technologies on Azure

How Microsoft is using Open Source Software?

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