Codeplex the measure of Microsoft open source street cred

Codeplex the measure of Microsoft open source street cred

Summary: The CodePlex audience is still skewed toward Microsoft licenses, and is far from representative of the whole open source movement.


Microsoft is trumpeting the success of its three year old CodePlex open source site, noting it now has over 10,000 projects and counting.

I agree that CodePlex is a fair way to measure the credibility Microsoft has with open source developers, or its "street cred."

But one can also have different views on the same numbers.

For example, as my friend Roberto Galopppini noted yesterday, Google has become home to 80,000 projects in half the time CodePlex has been open. Numbers don't just live in abstract isolation. They can be compared, apples-to-apples, and so Google's street cred looks pretty good.

It can also be useful to look at Microsoft's own statistics and ask, how mainstream is CodePlex? The picture above, from Microsoft, tells that story.

It's a pie chart showing the popularity of various licenses within CodePlex. The big wedge of blue represents the share held by Microsoft's MS-PL license, and it's about 36% of the total. The smaller red wedge below it is the share of GPLv2, about 20%. The light blue wedge to the left is the share held by LGPL, about 6.7%.

This is interesting. A fifth of the projects at Microsoft's own CodePlex site are GPLv2. But compare that to the general market, as Black Duck did recently (however accurately). In the general market 65% of projects are GPLv2, and that's somewhat down recently in part because of the efforts at CodePlex.

In other words, the CodePlex audience is still skewed toward Microsoft licenses, and is far from representative of the whole open source movement.

Why does this matter? Let's use a political analogy. The same arguments are used against any small political movement, the idea that it's unrepresentative of the people as a whole. Whether you're talking about Howard Dean on the left or the Ron Paul troops on the right, such statistics are proof you're out of the mainstream.

If Microsoft is evolving toward being an "open core" open source supplier, with open code at the center and proprietary extensions, that evolution still has far to go.

But it has begun. The Microsoft teabag has hit the water. How big a splash it makes has yet to be determined.

Topics: Open Source, Microsoft

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Being as user oriented as they are

    Microsoft performed a user satisfaction survey on the quality of air. Why they even asked we don't know.

    The results came out, and a whopping 87% of respondents said that they would much rather have "Microsoft Air".

    Microsoft began shipping bottled air, and it works out at only $5.99 per day, though more for training athletes.

    Microsoft says it has been a huge success, driven by user demand.

    In a separate story, environmental health officers have noticed strange leakages of poisonous gases in and around the areas that Microsoft is selling it's in demand and popular product.

    Their share price has since jumped 300%.

    Everyone is a winner!
  • RE: Codeplex the measure of Microsoft open source street cred

    They are a for profit company, any "free and open" endeavor is commendable you putz. You open source folks protest way too much.
  • RE: Codeplex the measure of Microsoft open source street cred

    I have yet to understand why people think MS should be open source or do open source projects. I like Linux, but MS has the advantage of using unfair non-compete measures over the last 25 years. Meaning most people prefer what they are used to, which is MS. I'm not saying MS was right to make software & OEM tie-ins so every desktop sold had nothing but Windows, but no one did anything to stop them.

    When I was a kid IBM was considered THE computer company, but they seemed to focus strictly on the corporate market. This mentality allowed MS to eclipse them & IBM has never really recoved. Apple is closed source Unix, why don't you guys do articles on their track record with open source?

    MS & Apple are corporations who have no obligation or financial motivation to devote time & resources to any open source project. Why do people act as though they are wrong for not doing so?
  • RE: Codeplex the measure of Microsoft open source street cred


    I want to clarify a few points about the Black Duck analysis of free and open source projects you referenced, and which the SFLC referenced. The analysis Black Duck released last week was a review of the free and open source project information we?ve gathered in our KnowledgeBase, a database of more than 200,000 open source projects from over 4,100 unique Internet sites. The data is based on self-reported license information provided by project owners. Aaron Williamson of the SFLC correctly points out that there can be ?inconsistencies? in some projects between the license the project owners report versus the actual license associated with the code. For instance a project may report having a BSD license but may contain code that is licensed under another license, such as the GPL. This is one of the reasons why Black Duck customers use our products, i.e., to verify the license and ensure they understand and can comply with its obligations. Also, our analysis did not overlook how significant GPL licenses are ? they still represent 65% of all project licenses, and have grown in absolute numbers even as they?ve declined on a relative basis.

    The reason for the rapid increase in MS-PL project share, we believe, is the growth of MS-PL projects: Microsoft reports the Codeplex site has doubled from 5,000 projects in June of ?08 to 10,000 projects today. Black Duck has been spidering the Codeplex site for years and including those projects in our KnowledgeBase. The announcement with Microsoft last May described how the flow of project information from Codeplex to Black Duck has been automated:

    An observation you make is that the Codeplex site does not more closely reflect the license share of the entire FOSS community. That?s not a surprise. Codeplex has a higher share of MS-PL projects versus BSD given it?s serving a Microsoft-oriented community. In the free and open source world in which we live, specialized repositories have grown for different audiences and needs, such as, and, to name a few.

    The last point I want to comment on is Aaron?s encouragement to Black Duck to make its software products available using a free software license. While Black Duck, like Red Hat and many other participants in the open source community, does not make all its products available under an open source license, we believe we provide significant contributions to the community by providing the means by which customers can more easily comply with authors? desires and obligations, and providing free resources and code search to the community (via, which many believe to be the most significant value of all.

    You have a great column and we appreciate the discussions you foster on these important topics.
  • MSFT bets on it's own future

    Codeplex because MSFT believes in it's own platform

    it is just that simple

    MSFT must show that open source developers can achieve more on MSFTs' own platform and SDK's than on any other platform or using any other sdk

    However, Open Source can work against you

    If Codeplex continues to be successful,
    Many developers will eventually push technology in directions MSFT may not be prepared to go, or even want to go.

    MSFT will have to show that is able to envision the future just as well as any developer or engineer

    And what if some developer or engineer in some back room using open source platforms made available by MSFT, makes the next break-through in technology?
    What will MSFT do then?
    Will MSFT just let that person or group just walk away with it?
    ..... we shall see