WiX on Slashdot, why is OSS@MS part of Shared Source?

It doesn't surprise me that Stephen's article "Perspectives on the Shared Source Initiative" was picked up by Slashdot. Stephen writes really well and Open Source at Microsoft is a fun topic. People always seem to like to peer into what they believe are paradoxes to try and puzzle out a solution. Anyway, two things caught my attention.

First, the main text of the Slashdot article had a string of words that just made me smile.

there actually are some projects under the OSI-approved licenses, for example the WiX Toolset, which is a good example of a successful open source project by Microsoft.

I'm not sure how many people agree with the comment but, at least, there were no Slashdot comments (that I saw) arguing that the WiX toolset is not a successful Open Source project. That made me happy. After getting beat up for quite a while that the WiX toolset could never be a real Open Source project because it started inside Microsoft, it is nice to see that perceptions can change.

Second, there is a comment on my previous blog entry (I saw some echoes of it in the Slashdot comments) that Open Source at Microsoft is "diluted by the whole Shared Source confusion." I thought about that comment for a bit and realized that I really didn't have a good answer. But I do know who would be able to answer the question, Jason Matusow. I'm certain Jason has an answer for this question, so here's an attempt to get him to answer it either in my comments or in his blog.

Comments (6)

  1. When we first went public with Shared Source in 2001, we knew that anything we said in the OSS space as going to generate controversy. The term "Shared Source" was used to be clear that we don’t view source sharing as limited to OSS or opensource.org guidelines. In my blog I talk about the 3 types of licensing we are using – one of which is reference grants (view, debug but no modify).

    Shared Source is an umbrella for all of the source release types that any Microsoft product group or individual is seeking to release. We look across the full spectrum of technologies and license types – I am not intereted in being constrained by one license. (Look at the the 57 OSS licenses and you’ll see that property owners tend to want to specify for themselves how their property is handled.)

    With 18 SSI releases now (IronPython just last week), I hear the feedback that the single term Shared may be causing confusion. That’s certainly not the intent – nor does what one product group do (Windows programs) take away from another (Rob’s WiX project).

    I hope this helps clarify things a little.


  2. Chris’s Two Axioms of SlashDot:

    1) Only read the linked articles, never the comments

    2) If you read the comments, NEVER reply to them.

    Seriously you missed this thread posted a couple days earlier:


    Basically the rabble accuses Microsoft of being a failure ( no suprise there ) and MSI/Setup a failure also. They point at InstallShield but it could easily be WiX also.

    The argument is that setup allows users to install any "random executable" and that all programs should be part of distros in order to preserve the safety and security of the machine.

    Now don’t they also flame Microsoft for including everything into the O/S?

    Anyways most Windows developers don’t understand setup, why would someone expect the rabble over at Slashdot to understand?

  3. Thanks, Chris, very educational. I don’t follow Slashdot any longer (too much noise not enough signal) so only go there when people point me at it. This was a great link.

  4. I’m terribly amused by people pointing at installshield, when installshields primary windows output is now MSI 🙂

  5. Not to get too far off topic here, but InstallShield was around for a really long time before MSI showed up. And the MSI was an SDK for other companies to use as a setup technology for their application so I’m not really suprised that InstallShield has the brand name recognition they do.

    I’m in it for the love, but with a wife and two kids I’m also in it for the money! I’ll consider WiX a ( complete ) success when I start getting a lot of hits for it on Monster.com. I get a few now, usually from contractors like Volt in the Redmond area recruiting for SDE positions.

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