AS THE YEARS pass by there is a tendency to go soft and it seems that even Microsoft is warming to the idea of open source applications.
The developer of a content management system (CMS), Silverstripe has become the first open source web application to attain Microsoft certification. Microsoft certification is generally used as a sign of acceptance to instill a sense of safety in those follower types who look to deploy products wearing the Vole's badge of honour on machines running Windows.
There's nothing in Microsoft's literature that should make it impossible for open source applications attain certification but it's taken a very long time for one to do so. For Silverstripe, this largely symbolic achievement should help it gain more customers, especially those who run Microsoft's products. The firm says that a large proportion of its users do use servers running Windows and it took it three years to make its CMS work with Microsoft's operating system, web server and SQL database server. That sounds rather masochistic to us, but it seems the company did it.
It also seems that the chaps at Silverstripe had to bend over backwards to achieve Microsoft certification, including packaging the CMS into Microsoft's Web Platform Installer to make setup easier. Then there was the tweaking required in order to make sure that Silverstripe "runs fast" on Windows. Apparently all this was done to "Microsoft best practices", a term that surely hits the gold standard for oxymorons.
Silverstripe is not the first open source application to run on Windows nor will it be the last, however what this does show is that open source projects can attain the standards that Microsoft expects, whatever they may be. Of course Silverstripe's comments about coding to Microsoft's best practices is most likely to result in a chuckle from many open source developers out there, but for firms like Silverstripe the badge of Microsoft certification is likely to make flogging its application to slow-witted firms that still run Windows web servers a whole lot easier.
Volumes can be written about how and why Microsoft manages to attain the sales figures it does, but one reason is the relationship that the Vole has with lots of small and medium sized companies' IT management. Notoriously resistive to change, and having been weaned on Microsoft's products until reaching mid-life crisis age, anything without the Vole's blessing is likely to get a short shrift from the suits in the IT offices who dropped out of college to do Windows.
All this opens up the possibility of other open source projects such as Linux distributions attaining Microsoft certification. Sadly that irony is unlikely to happen, as the certification is for Windows applications and not operating systems, but given that some Linux distributions contribute towards utilities it is not inconceivable that names such as Red Hat and Novell's Suse might end up with products that have Microsoft certifications, if of course the Vole allows it.
For some open source projects the prospect of gaining Microsoft's blessing should help them get a foot in the door against inferior, closed source products that pretend to superiority but do not offer their users access to source code. µ