Microsoft founds and funds open source forum

Software company has created a not-for-profit foundation to address integration and cultural issues between open source and proprietary software.
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Microsoft has founded an organization for the exchange of code between software companies and open source communities.

The CodePlex Foundation has been created as a not-for-profit forum to address integration and cultural issues between open source and proprietary software.

Microsoft describes the foundation as an "extension to the CodePlex brand", building on CodePlex.com--the company's open source project repository which currently hosts some 10,000 projects.

The software giant is currently the foundation's only funder.

"The CodePlex Foundation was created as a forum in which open source communities and the software-development community can come together with the shared goal of increasing participation in open-source community projects," said a statement on the CodePlex Foundation's Web site.

In particular, Microsoft said, the foundation is aimed at solving cultural, methodological and intellectual-property issues that arise when open source works with what Microsoft calls commercial software.

The foundation's interim president will be Sam Ramji, currently senior director of platform strategy at Microsoft. Ramji's departure from Microsoft was formally announced by Bill Hilf, Microsoft general manager of platform strategy, in a blog post last week.

"We recognize the importance of having that strong internal advocate for open source, we are actively seeking someone to fill Sam's shoes at Microsoft," said Hilf. "We will not waver in our commitment to open source."

The foundation's board consists of Microsoft employees Bill Staples, Stephanie Boesch and Britt Johnston, plus Novell's Miguel de Icaza, and Shaun Walker from DotNetNuke.

Microsoft has had a mixed stance towards open source. It has made efforts to become more interoperable with open-source products, and has employed ambassadors such as Ramji and Hilf to the open source community.

On the other hand, Microsoft has also stated that Linux infringes on 235 patents it holds, although it has declined to identify them, and pursued TomTom for alleged patent infringement.

In a speech at the Red Hat conference in Chicago on Sep. 3, Samba lead Jeremy Allison told an audience that it was a mistake to think of Microsoft as one monolithic company. Instead, the open source community should see that parts of the company, such as Hilf's department, are in favor of Linux, while other parts, such as the legal department, see Linux as infringing Microsoft patents, according to Allison.

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