New Microsoft Subsidiary Looks To Build Bridges To The Open-Source World


Microsoft, long known for having a love-hate relationship with the open-source software community, is launching a wholly-owned subsidiary with the goal of advancing "the company's investment in openness – including interoperability, open standards and open source."

The new Microsoft Open Technologies Inc. will serve as a bridge between Microsoft's proprietary development efforts and open-source technologies, making it easier for the two to interoperate in mixed IT environments.

Microsoft's Interoperability Strategy team will form the nucleus of the new Microsoft Open Technologies Inc. and Jean Paoli, who currently leads the team, will serve as the subsidiary's president. Paoli announced the formation of the subsidiary in a blog post.

Paoli, who has worked at Microsoft since 1996, is best known as one of the inventors of XML, an industry standard document format.

"This new structure will help facilitate the interaction between Microsoft’s proprietary development processes and the company’s open innovation efforts and relationships with open source and open standards communities," Paoli said in the blog. "The subsidiary provides a new way of engaging in a more clearly defined manner."

Paoli noted that Microsoft already works with a number of business groups and organizations on such standards initiatives as the World Wide Web Consortium's HTML5, the Internet Engineering Task Force's HTTP 2.0 and the Distributed management Task Force's cloud standards efforts.

The subsidiary would help Microsoft "iterate and release" open-source software at a faster clip, participate in open-source projects and accept contributions from the open-source community, Paoli said.

Microsoft has long had a contentious relationship with the open-source world. In 2001 Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer famously referred to Linux as "a cancer. And in 2007 the company's attorneys published an article in Fortune magazine claiming that various open-source software products infringed a total of 235 Microsoft patents, 42 by the Linux operating system alone.

And yet earlier this month the Linux Foundation listed Microsoft – for the first time – as one of the 20 largest contributors of software code to the Linux kernel.