Microsoft's detente with the open-source world is growing stronger by the minute. Steve Ballmer said today that he wouldn't consider an open-source-based business model a deterrent to buying a company Microsoft found interesting.
"We will do some buying of companies that are built around open-source products," Ballmer said during an onstage interview at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.
A refusal to consider acquisitions of open-source developers "would take us out of the acquisition market quite dramatically," Ballmer said -- a tacit acknowledgment of how thoroughly open-source development has reshaped the software market.
It's a pretty strong turnaround from the executive who famously denounced GPL-licensed Linux as "a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches" in a 2001 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times.
Since then, Microsoft has slowly embraced the community-development ethos of the open-source world while continuing to shun its ideological evangelism of non-proprietary software. Even as Microsoft spreads FUD about its belief that Linux infringes dozens of its patents, it has begun releasing some of its technology under "shared source" licenses, two of which were approved by the Open Source Institute this month.
Given the chilly reception Vista is getting, Microsoft might want to road-test Ballmer's willingness to buy open-source developers and go shopping for a new operating system ...