The Open Source Initiative today announced that Microsoft has joined the organisation as an official sponsor.
Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative is one of the most effective advocates for open source software, emphasising education, collaboration, and “preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement.”
Sponsorship is a vocal acknowledgement of open source values. It also provides the organization with much-needed funds, although the announcement didn’t say precisely how much Microsoft is pumping into its coffers.
Over the past fifteen-or-so years, Microsoft has undergone what could be described as a Damascene Conversion, when it comes to free and open source software.
In 2001, then-CEO Steve Balmer described Linux as a “cancer” that “attaches itself to everything in an intellectual property sense.” Over the following years, Microsoft’s demeanour to open source thawed, and in the 2000’s it launched two new open source licenses, the Microsoft Community License and the Microsoft Permissive License.
Microsoft has open-sourced the .Net framework, as well as other major software products, like Visual Studio Code and Typescript. It also brought Bash to Windows, and Powershell and the .Net framework to Linux and MacOS.
And perhaps most surprising, last November Microsoft joined the Linux Foundation.
And now here we are. Microsoft’s sponsorship of the Open Source Initiative is yet another reminder – as if we needed it – that the company’s commitment to open source software and transparency is more than lip-service. The bad old days of Balmer and “embrace, extend, and extinguish” are long gone.