For years critics have been blasting Microsoft over their proprietary standards and applications. Over the last few years, however, Microsoft has slowly been answering those critics by adopting internet standards instead of insisting on their own, and releasing more things to the community.
The ability to save Office 2007 documents as XPS comes to mind, as does the ability for CardSpace to use open standards like OpenID. Now, in their next step they are embracing the open source community through the addition of a new Open Source page within Microsoft.
On this site you can find all sorts of information and resources for those wanting to do open source projects using Microsoft software. Links to articles, websites, and the Visual Studio Express editions can be found. I won’t try to reiterate the entire site here, but if you have an interest in Open Source it’s well worth your time to have a look.
In addition is another site called Port 25. It is the outreach site for Microsoft’s Open Source Software Lab. Some really cool stuff here on Linux interoperability, as well as the new Dynamic Language support such as IronRuby and IronPython.
I can tell right now I’m going to be spending a lot of time on Port 25.
Finally, I should mention a site that’s been around for a bit by the name of CodePlex. It’s Microsoft’s site to host open source project done by both Microsoft folks and those of us in the community. (Well, I say us, one day I keep swearing I’ll find time to crank out some cool project and put it on CodePlex.)
Currently they show about 2000 projects right now, so there should be a lot for you to check out.
No, I don’t foresee Vista going open source anytime soon. But I really have to hand it to Microsoft. Somewhere over the last few years they realized they weren’t the only game in town. Since then they have really made an effort to “play nice” with other communities, and embrace many new open standards. The creation of their Microsoft Open Source site is just another step in that journey.