The Problem of Open Source in the DotNet World

If you missed Oren Eini's (a.k.a. Ayende Rahien's) post on The Problem of Open Source in the Microsoft World, I would highly recommend it. He makes a lot of points I wish I had made in my earlier posts on open source in the .NET community.

One of the commenters on Ayende's post said, "This is the most well-written explanation of the dillemas which are caused by MS lack of support for OSS." Ayende's post is definitely worth reading if you are interested in this subject.

With Ayende's excellent points available for the readers's reference, I think I can better state the points I was trying to make in one of my earlier posts.

  • Microsoft doesn't do enough to support the .NET open source community.
  • Microsoft holds a unique position in this community.
  • The .NET OSS community is good for Microsoft and .NET.
  • Microsoft needs an attitude change.

In my view, a great way to both demonstrate an attitude change to the community and to help precipitate that attitude change within Microsoft is for Microsoft to commit funding to select open source projects or to put together an organization like INETA for OSS.

When the leaders of a company commit serious funding to new direction, team leaders within the organization get a very clear signal about priorities. A serious funding commitment can cause an attitude change throughout the organization in a way that memos and meetings and annoucements cannot.

Both Ayende and I agree that Microsoft needs an attitude change in regard to OSS. My suggestion is simply that putting some serious money into the .NET OSS community is a really good way to induce that attitude change within Microsoft while simultaneously helping accomplish some good things within the community.

It seems that many readers (but not all) agree with me that Microsoft needs an attitude change toward the .NET open source community. However, I wonder if my emphasis on funding (money) is something people in the OSS community have a hard time relating to.

I believe my emphasis on money (in the form of funding) is warranted when it comes to Microsoft because they are a cash-rich company and they have demonstrated that money (in the form of fines) will cause them to change their behavior. I am a developer, but I have a business background, and I tend to think like a business person at times (although when I catch myself doing it I attempt to cure myself by writing some code ;). Although my earlier posts could have been better written, I continue to believe that Microsoft Should Financially Support Open Source Projects. I'm not saying they have a responsibility to desolate OSS projects or that they should support all (or even most) OSS projects in the .NET community. I am saying that I'd like to see the same types of changes Ayende describes and that I think a financial commitment by Microsoft's leaders would focus the entire company on really changing in a way that will benefit everyone in the .NET community, including Microsoft.