Does Microsoft Finally Get Open Source?

By | November 7, 2016
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When Microsoft first started addressing market pressure toward open source, the company didn’t get it. Probably it’s more accurate to say Microsoft didn’t want to get it. Or wanted to pretend not to get it.

A key exhibit was the Shared Source Initiative (SSI), an early 2000s initiative to allow certain parties to view and use source code under certain circumstances. The company billed it as a nod toward open source. A few of the license models under Shared Source gained the blessing of open source standards bodies, although the term “Shared Source” still drew criticism as a marketing effort to dilute the term “open source.”

One pillar of open source philosophy is that many eyes on the code make it more secure and stable by spotting flaws, dangerous shortcuts and questionable decisions. One of the SSI programs that didn’t get outside standards blessing was the Government Security Program (GSP), allowing government agencies to review Microsoft source code in a tightly controlled setting for security purposes. In light of subsequent events, the GSP is actually pretty alarming.

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