MS Apache?

I am pleased to see MS pony up US$100,000 to join the Apache Software Foundation. It is poetic justice in that the webserver that is 100% open source that beats the 100% proprietary iis in many ways least of which is about security, now has the creator of that broken product becoming closer to the winner! Apache has won. Free and Open Source Software has won. Hands down.

We have to read in between the lines of this move by MS. As the truism goes, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. I sense that this cosying up with Apache is just that. The Apache licensing model allows anyone to take anything, and unlike the GPL, the consumer of Apache code is not obliged to return improvements etc and are also allowed to close up the code.

While I think it is unlikely that MS will close up Apache code, it is very likely that they will do their embrace and extend (and perhaps extinguish) method in ring fencing software and ideas. But I could be wrong and horribly at that. Ray Ozzie is the man in charge, now that BGates has retired. My sense is that Ozzie is far more clued in and savvy that this Apache relationship might actually turn out to be good for FOSS. It will help more people adopt Apache and related subprojects and remove any need for any form of proprietary software solutions. The clueless CIOs of the world (and there’s no shortage of them) on seeing the MS embrace of Apache might actually ask the question – “why not Apache and Open Source?”.

I think brighter days are ahead. Welcome to the open source party, Microsoft.


  1. Hi Harish,
    Thanks for raising this to the broader open source community in Singapore. As you are probably aware I work for Microsoft, and am personally very excited about the direction we are headed with Open Source software. The actions of Microsoft joining the Apache Software Foundation, represent that of a company who is serious about delivering a platform of choice for developers and IT professionals by ensuring that popular software such as web servers are able to run effectively on the Windows platform. I have the pleasure of knowing Sam Ramji, the gentleman leading the efforts of Microsoft and Open Source and you can read on his blog ( what this sponsorship of the ASF is really about, the following two sections really hit the point.
    “It is not a move away from IIS as Microsoft’s strategic web server technology. We have invested significantly in refactoring and adding new, state-of-the-art features to IIS, including support for PHP. We will continue to invest in IIS for the long term and are currently under way with development of IIS 8.
    It is a strong endorsement of The Apache Way, and opens a new chapter in our relationship with the ASF. We have worked with Apache POI, Apache Axis2, Jakarta, and other projects in the last year, and we will continue our technical support and interoperability testing work for this open source software.”
    At that same post, you will be able to read about the recent code contributions made to the PHP library such as ADOdb to enable native data access to SQL Server.
    As I said at the beginning of this reply, I am truly excited about the efforts that Sam Ramji and his team are doing with Open Source, this is truly a changed company (and I have heard this from many Open Source developers in my conversations recently), and its actions like these that go a long way to ensuring that as a responsible technology provider, we deliver a platform of choice for any organization’s solution needs.
    Yours Sincerely,
    Matthew Hardman

    • Matthew –
      Hi. Thanks for the post. I was not expecting to see any form of what appears to be a press release complete with quotes in a blog entry like this.
      For a while (20 years ago) I worked for MS (in Redmond and Bellevue). It was easy for me to quit because I was disgusted by the business ethics. The lack of business ethics has not changed.
      I am, unfortunately, forced to continue to ignore anything Microsoft tries to do in the FOSS world because there is really NO genuine and earnest good faith it in. Your CEO certainly has been a big Achilles’ heel in this with his branding of FOSS as a cancer, as being undemocratic etc etc. (I think he will be outed soon because of the Micro-Hoo failure :-)).
      I will look upon MS more favourably if:
      a) The alleged software patent violations in Linux and FOSS are enumerated. Either show me the code or STFU and withdraw it completely. No half measures. So, after showing it, release it for all to use.
      b) Show that there is a genuine interest in wanting to work with the FOSS community by publishing the NTFS specs unreservedly.
      c) Withdraw ooxml and admit that it was a monumental mistake.
      d) Remove ALL forced sale of your company’s OS when hardware is bought. I want to see an ability to choose my OS when I order ANY hardware from any of the brand names.
      e) Sign up with the Open Invention Network and dedicate all of the patents MS holds to be freely and unreservedly used by anyone in the FOSS world.
      f) Stop forcing OLPC to run Windows. It is a disgrace to see that. Work with the Sugar and Fedora community to enhance OLPC even further.
      Show me the enthusiasm and honesty. Ponying up 100K to ASF is not enough. Money is what MS throws all over the place to buy favours (as was seen in the ooxml vote buying worldwide). Otherwise, it is business as usual and MS continues to be seen and considered an untrustworthy company in the IT world.

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