Microsoft's Open Source Subsidiary Ends Its 3-Year Run

Microsoft on Friday announced that it was effectively shuttering Microsoft Open Technologies Inc. three years after its formation.

MS Open Tech launched in April 2012 as an independent subsidiary with the aim of investing in open source initiatives and establishing Microsoft's footing in the open source community. In a blog post on Friday, MS Open Tech President Jean Paoli announced that Microsoft now plans to absorb the group back into the company.

"MS Open Tech has reached its key goals, and open source technologies and engineering practices are rapidly becoming mainstream across Microsoft," Paoli said. "It's now time for MS Open Tech to rejoin Microsoft Corp., and help the company take its next steps in deepening its engagement with open source and open standards."

The move is hardly surprising given Microsoft's open source efforts over the past year, which may have surpassed what most observers ever expected of the company. Microsoft, in some ways, now supports every major open source initiative and has made contributions once unthinkable, including its .NET Framework. Mark Russinovich, chief technology officer of Microsoft Azure, raised eyebrows earlier this month when he said that an open source Windows was "definitely possible."

"Open source has become a key part of Microsoft's culture," Paoli said in his Friday post. "Microsoft investments in open source ecosystems and non-Microsoft technologies are stronger than ever, and as we build applications, services, and tools for other platforms, our engineers are more involved in open source projects every day. Today, Microsoft engineers participate in nearly 2,000 open source projects on GitHub and CodePlex combined."

Paoli also noted Microsoft has brought "first-class support" for Linux to Azure; partnered with Docker to integrate its containers to enable support on Azure and Windows; built Azure HDInsight on Apache Hadoop and Linux; and created developer support for open platforms and languages, including Android, Node.js and Python.

In addition to deep support for Docker, Paoli pointed to integration with other key environments, both open and competing proprietary platforms, notably Apple iOS. Among other projects he noted were contributions to Apache Cordova, Cocos2d-x, OpenJDK and dash.js; support for Office 365 on the Moodle learning platform; and collaboration on key Web standards, including HTML5, HTTP/2 and WebRTC/ORTC.

As Microsoft absorbs MS Open Tech, it will create the Microsoft Open Technology Programs Office, according to Paoli.

"Team members will play a broader role in the open advocacy mission with teams across the company," he said. "The Programs Office will scale the learnings and practices in working with open source and open standards that have been developed in MS Open Tech across the whole company. Additionally, the Microsoft Open Technology Programs Office will provide tools and services to help Microsoft teams and engineers engage directly with open source communities, create successful Microsoft open source projects, and streamline the process of accepting community contributions into Microsoft open source projects."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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