What most Microsofties vs the Open Source adherents seem to have missed in all the drek passed back and forth is that Microsoft was taken to court in the US and the EU on its monopolist practices. The EU forced Microsoft to comply with the disclosure of source it required for "inter-operability" between Microsoft's OS and the rest of the OS world. That was something the DoJ flying monkeys in Washington DC couldn't seem to understand and that it was the important legal precedent needed to allow ALL operating systems to be able to communicate with each other.
SAMBA compatibility for Microsoft's OS seems to finally gotten through to the idiots' brains in MS's legal department as something that might actually be good for Microsoft. What it means is that the last 10% of computers in the world that won't be running Microsoft software will now hopefully be able to talk to Microsoft OS images on the other 90% of the world's computers. DUH! That is what is truly significant here.
What Microsoft has to understand is that cooperating with organized open source programmers is good for them. They can learn from a programmer culture that is NOT Redmond-centered and can learn something new and perhaps even better than what the droids in Redmond can do.
Programs like Linux, Apache and SAMBA go through a fairly stringent peer-review process that may or may not be going on in Microsoft. The peer review process used in Microsoft though is likely so heavily influenced by the marketing department that its not complete or through enough to mean anything.
If you want proof of that statement, look at Vista, look at XP etc. Vista betas sucked yet they went ahead and released a product they knew was flawed. Talk about Vista SP1 began almost immediately after the release. Microsoft claims better security and so forth. They also claim lower piracy rates. Could it be that lower piracy rates equates to better security? The majority of corporate users using Windows are using XP and Win2K still. Having Vista around will not change that significantly for 5 to 7 years. It took XP nearly 7 years to reach 50% of the installed base of corporate users.
Opening up to large open source projects enough to allow Microsoft's protocols to be understood will allow the "interoperability" that the marketing flacks tout. Gee! Maybe they can sell more servers if people know they will work with other OS systems in the same server room? Ya think?
What's really funny is that if Microsoft published their source code under a copyright, had it printed up, distributed and sold as a book it would qualify as a bestseller immediately. Microsoft could then use peer review both inside and outside Redmond to make their operating system cracker-proof. It also would be covered for more years than a patent. Take all of the other add-ons like DirectX, Multimedia viewers etc out and then they could be sold as add-ons. If you don't play games or watch movies, why have those chunks of code in the OS? I don't think many users would scan all that printed source code into their computer, correct all the errors the optical scanner made, compile the OS and then try to run it when they could go buy a copy of the compiled OS for say, $90?
I know that it could be done. Microsoft is half-way there, they just haven't published the source. Its called Windows XP Embedded.