Business Software

Red Hat's Reaction to Microsoft's Open-source Spinoff: Welcome! (mostly)

Penguin
The news that Microsoft's new Open Technologies unit would be spun off from the company and dedicated to advancing its interests in the open-source market drew a mostly positive response from Red Hat this morning.

[RECENTLY: Microsoft forms subsidiary to engage with open source communities]

"Open source and open standards give customers and developers freedom. Interoperability makes more possible. Our hope is that this formal announcement signals the commitment of Microsoft to engage with open source communities in a way that will ultimately provide choice in the marketplace. An open world is a better world," said Paul Cormier, Red Hat's executive vice president and president of products and technologies, in a blog post.

There were a number of points in Cormier's blog post, however, that could be interpreted as being less complimentary toward the Redmond giant. A reference to Red Hat having attained its current status "not without opposition" may well be a veiled dig at Microsoft, as could a line asserting that "some of the new entrants [to the open source world] are surprising."

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Red Hat even offered its assistance to Microsoft as the latter negotiates a "radical shift" in its culture toward a greater embrace of openness.

Nevertheless, the general tone of the statement was upbeat. According to Cormier, Microsoft's actions could well mean good things for customers and developers, and he asserted that "a rising tide lifts all ships."

It remains to be seen, of course, what the long-term effects of Microsoft's big new plunge into the waters of open source will bring. However, the company has shown definite signs of being ready for a more meaningful embrace of open source over the past several years. While CEO Steve Ballmer referred to Linux as a "cancer" in 2001, the Linux Foundation earlier this month described Microsoft as the 17th most prolific contributor to Linux during recent development cycles.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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