Longtime readers may remember my 2006 post on the "open source incline."
I wrote there is a relationship between how open a license is and the community support a project generates.
I was reminded of this reading Mary Jo Foley's piece on Microsoft financing an open source version of NFS4 for Windows. The software will let Windows clients easily transfer data from Linux servers. It is of enormous benefit to the Windows community.
As Paula's piece on this topic notes, Microsoft gave the University of Michigan (Go Wolverines) the money to do this development. Michigan also developed the Linux version of NFSv4, so they went to the source.
But they went there with cash, even though Michigan itself would gain benefits from having this kind of software available. As would any university running a mixed-source computer network, which is to say all of them.
When you have to pay people to do your open source development, even development that is in their interest to have done, you are naturally going to take a proprietary attitude toward what results. You may indeed wonder what the excitement of open source is all about -- is it just taking your work for nothing?
It's not, but Microsoft has never gone far enough down the open source incline to know any different and I wonder if it ever will.