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Microsoft Open Technologies Taps Open Source

For the good of interoperability, Microsoft has unveiled plans to encourage the development and adoption of more open-source platforms. To kick-start that plan, Microsoft spun up a new division under its empire: “Microsoft Open Technologies Inc.”

This “wholly owned subsidiary” of the Microsoft world will be tasked to “work closely” with the open standards currently driving major technology trends, like HTML5. Other open-source platforms will include the cloud-centric DMTF and OASIS, plus a peppering of HTTP2 and W3C, among others.

Microsoft’s official announcement comes courtesy of an MSDN blog written by Jean Paoli, the new president of Microsoft Open Technologies. Paoli outlines Microsoft’s desire to engage the open-source world “in a more clearly defined manner.”

It’s not unusual for Microsoft to play ball with the open-source community, but the official creation of this subsidiary shows there’s serious interest in the open-source world. With Microsoft’s resources, there exists the potential for unusual and interesting relationships: What big name vendors will suddenly befriend its longtime competitor? What kind of fresh code will Microsoft bring to the table? The Microsoft Open Technologies team will even “participate in existing open-source efforts and accept contributions from the community,” in an effort to accelerate the complete interoperability of Microsoft and open-source technologies. It’s worth noting that Microsoft’s involvement in the open-source world means it has the ability to directly sway the direction of these technologies. That could be beneficial for Microsoft in everything from cross-platform software compatibility to IE10 browsing on Windows 8 tablets.

While some open-source aficionados might call into question Microsoft’s true intentions, Red Hat has actually welcomed Microsoft’s efforts. Seeing the move akin to the way “rising tides lift all boats,” Red Hat is somewhat enthusiastic about Microsoft’s new ambitions. “Our hope is that this formal announcement signals the commitment of Microsoft to engage with open-source communities in a way that will ultimately provide choice in the marketplace,” the company said in a statement. “An open world is a better world.”

With many vendors flocking to adopt open-source cloud and virtualization technologies, it’s likely Microsoft foresees a future where befriending the open-source community will be wholly beneficial. And at the end of the day, Microsoft has nothing to lose. Frankly, it’s about time.

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