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Microsoft Turns Page on Open Technologies, Inc. but Hypes Open Source Support for WebRTC

April 21, 2015

Jean Paoli, President, Microsoft Open Technologies created more than a bit of buzz this week with a blog announcing what he called, “Open source at Microsoft: The next chapter for Microsoft Open Technologies.”

For those in the open source communities who have marveled at how Microsoft has embraced openness in the past few years and in some places has even become its champion the headline of the blog is not cause for concern. As Paoli explains:

Three years ago, Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. (MS Open Tech) was founded as an innovative startup subsidiary within Microsoft. The goal of the organization was to accelerate Microsoft’s open collaboration with the industry by delivering critical interoperable technologies in partnership with open source and open standards communities. Today, MS Open Tech has reached its key goals, and open source technologies and engineering practices are rapidly becoming mainstream across Microsoft. It’s now time for MS Open Tech to rejoin Microsoft Corp, and help the company take its next steps in deepening its engagement with open source and open standards.

You have to admire what appears to be “mission accomplished” in terms of MS Open Tech getting Microsoft into the open source game.  Indeed, the long list of contributions MS Open Tech was involved in for helping Microsoft embrace open source more intimately that which the company now feels is baked into its DNA is impressive.  From Docker integration building Azure HDInsight on Apache Hadoop and Linux, and the open sourcing of .NET, they have put their resources behind promises to play better with open source. This includes as Paoli also mentions efforts to enhance the connected web through support of industry standards for HTML5, HTTP/2 and WebRTC/ORTC. 

While obviously this support of open source is not exactly altruistic, it has been good for customers as islands of proprietary solutions at least are giving way to interoperability and collaboration on things that customers are requesting/demanding. It also has allowed Microsoft to expand interest in the developer community for its flagship products and how they can be leveraged.

What I also appreciate was Paoli’s statement about moving forward. How successful the new Microsoft Open Technology Programs Office will be in better engaging the open source community is a chapter to be written and just how embedded open is in the Microsoft culture is a not insubstantial hurdle. However, the optimism in his closing line may well be warranted given recent history. He concludes by saying, “It is heartening for me to see how our collective efforts are becoming a reality, as a culture of open development is shaping how technology is built at Microsoft.” 

Interestingly, since this is the WebRTC Solutions Community where this posting has its home, let’s hope that WebRTC/ORTC remains a priority.  Their involvement is to put it mildly something important to WebRTC’s success.   

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Edited by Maurice Nagle

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