I'm not sure Steve Ballmer would recognize today's Microsoft. OpenBSD, the open-source BSD Unix foundation, has just announced that Microsoft has become its first "Gold level contributor in the OpenBSD Foundation's 2015 fund-raising campaign."
Now, by Microsoft standards, donating to the non-profit OpenBSD Foundation isn't a big deal. The company's gold donation would be between $25,000-50,000. Still, even as Microsoft becomes more friendly to open-source software, it's hard to get your hand around the idea of Microsoft spending its pocket change on an open-source operating system group.
So, why would Microsoft donate to OpenBSD? It's because the OpenBSD Foundation also sponsors the remote secure login and shell program, OpenSSH. This program has long been the Linux and Unix system administrator software of choice for remote administration.
A Microsoft representative confirmed this. She said, "Microsoft is specifically contributing to the SSH project under OpenBSD."
This move came after years of requests for Windows to support Secure Shell (SSH) protocol. Microsoft added SSH to PowerShell in June 2015. The program they ported to Windows to do it? OpenSSH.
Angel Calvo, Microsoft's PowerShell Team Group Software Engineering Manager, explained at the time that "the best option will be for our team to adopt an industry proven solution".
To make this happen, Calvo said that the "PowerShell team will support and contribute to the OpenSSH community." And, we now know that Microsoft is backing its developer hours with dollars. Or, as it was announced on the OpenBSD Journal, "This donation is in recognition of the role of the Foundation in supporting the OpenSSH project."
So, while after due consideration, it's not that's surprising, it's still interesting how Microsoft is now working, instead of fighting, with open source.