Shared Source - More than Windows.

Thanks for the feedback on the first posting with meat on the bones. I’m moderating the comments in an attempt to keep the spammers at bay – but I’m posting all comments, positive or negative to keep this a space of “open” thought. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

I’m going to repeat myself for the moment; given some of the comments, this bears repetition.

Shared Source includes more than the Windows programs. Within a business context, Windows is arguably the most valuable intellectual property in all of software. We are sharing that source code with a great deal of care. Our reference license is not meant to be analogous to any OSI license. (The big hint was when we called it “Shared Source” instead of “open source.”) The dispassionate view of understanding how platform source code is used and how our customers and partners want to work with it was how we arrived at this approach. Thus, the fact that well over 99% of those developing on Linux will never wish to modify the source becomes an important data point. I give full credit to those who do – tackling a source base representing millions of lines of source is a major undertaking no matter what OS or app you are talking about.

Shared Source includes more than the Windows programs. The challenge for any organization (and Microsoft is no different) is in understanding what the collaborative development model can do for that specific organization. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Shared Source includes more than the Windows programs. Looking across the spectrum of technologies that we produce, there is an enormous opportunity to reach out more effectively to the developer community. We have engaged communities well for years; witness MSDN, TechNet, the Visual Basic dev community, etc. But we always have room to learn more and to improve. We are learning from open source and thinking deeply about how that model can either blend or, at times, conflict with what we are doing.

Shared Source includes more than the Windows programs. I have categorized our approach into four community-centric concepts:

  1. Supporting existing customers
  2. Encouraging new development
  3. Enabling academia and research
  4. Creating opportunities for our partners

Any source sharing we do falls into one of these broad categories. I dismiss the idea that, if you are not talking about a core asset or a platform technology, then there is no benefit from source code access.

Shared source includes more than the Windows programs. Developer tools, samples, snippets, app-layer technologies – all are fair game. I’m not interested in source licensing as a religious battle, nor am I interested in hamstringing my organization by limiting our approach to a single license or technology. Shared Source is predicated on a spectrum approach – licenses, technologies, and communities. The open source community would be really boring if there were only one project – an operating system.


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