USUALLY WITHHOLDING tech giant Microsoft has announced that it is to join the Open Invention Network, declaring 60,000 of its patents open source.
The move is designed to shore-up Linux, which as an open source developer is more vulnerable to accidentally copying one of the big-boys and ending up in court.
But what's in it for Microsoft? The company which is usually extremely protective of its intellectual property seems to be in the midst of one of its trademark changes of heart. We saw a similar one just before Windows 10 came out.
Plus, with the first GitHub Universe conference since the code repository was taken over by Microsoft taking place next week, anything to placate developers who are in some cases hostile at the move will be welcome.
Erich Andersen, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft, acknowledges that this could be seen as a curveball: "We know Microsoft's decision to join OIN may be viewed as surprising to some; it is no secret that there has been friction in the past between Microsoft and the open source community over the issue of patents.
"For others who have followed our evolution, we hope this announcement will be viewed as the next logical step for a company that is listening to customers and developers and is firmly committed to Linux and other open source programs."
Before the usual "our users tell us": "At Microsoft, we take it as a given that developers do not want a binary choice between Windows vs. Linux, or .NET vs Java - they want cloud platforms to support all technologies."
So in other words, anyone who knows Microsoft will realise that this is business as usual and decades of irritatingly clandestine behaviour is all in the past, man.
"Now, as we join OIN, we believe Microsoft will be able to do more than ever to help protect Linux and other important open source workloads from patent assertions. We bring a valuable and deep portfolio of over 60,000 issued patents to OIN," Andersen added.
"We also hope that our decision to join will attract many other companies to OIN, making the license network even stronger for the benefit of the open source community."
Aspects of Azure, .NET, ASP and several other significant technologies are now, or were already part of the open source. Earlier this month, the company also released MS-DOS as a learning tool. μ
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