Microsoft is also part of Open Source

The other day a friend of mine posted on his Facebook wall something about Microsoft that got the cliché comment “Shouldn’t open source be also considered?”.

Most people are misinformed about the difference between open source and free software. I guess they don’t even know it’s different.

According to Wikipedia, free software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with restrictions that only ensure that further recipients can also do these things and that manufacturers of consumer-facing hardware allow user modifications to their hardware.

The same source tells us that Open Source is computer software that is available in source code form: the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under a software license that permits users to study, change, improve and at times also to distribute the software.

Well, let me tell you Microsoft is open source and does make available several free software tools for personal use and also software development. For instance:

The last example of free software is very relevant because it’s a free Web development platform all-in-one (IDE+Web Server+Database) and it allows the installation of open source packages (ex: DotNetNuke, Umbraco, WordPress) to use in application development.

To learn more about Microsoft strategy on open source and interoperability, I suggest the following site: Microsoft Openness.

For an insight on how to access Microsoft products source code, please visit the Microsoft shared source initiative website.


3 thoughts on “Microsoft is also part of Open Source

  1. Hi Ozzie

    You are confusing “Free of Charge Software” with “Free Software” and “Open Source”. Free Software and Open Source has well defined license of use.

    I think that Windows Live is not free software. Is the source code available? Is the software released under one of the FSF approved Free Software License? ( Is Windows Live released under any of the Open Source license approved by OSI ( Windows LIve is a Free Service, which is different.

    Windows Live is it “Free” as (free of charge) but we are not free to change the source code and redistribute it. So it falls from the real definition of “Free Software” and “Open Source”.

    To really know if it is “free software” and/or “open source” you had to specify which license of use does each project use.

    – Windows Live: License? Doesn’t seem Open Source or Free Software.
    – .Net Framework, It is not free software/open source license. Mono is the open source implementation of .Net that is free and open. (
    – Codeplex is a project repository just like SourceForge. It contains free and open source software.
    – MS WebMatrix seems to be a web develop platform. Where is it source code? which license does it use? The Terms of Use does no look like a Open Source or Free Software.

    The License of use of the software will show you if it is really “free software” or “open source”.

    You said “Microsoft is open source”, well, Exchange, SQL Server, Windows, Dynamix, Office, MSN Messenger and almost every MS product is close source.

    Please Correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Hi Martin,

      I will not correct you because you are apparently right. Thank you for the enlightment. But still, there are parts of Microsoft’s software that are open source (although not free). Take for instance, the WTL library used on the Chromium project. It’s not free software, but it is open source. I wanted to state that Microsoft should not be viewed as the opposite of open source, but you are right and I stand corrected. It’s not free software 🙂

      • Thanks Ozzie.

        I just wanted to state the concepts and definitions:
        – Open Source Software – According the OpenSource Initiative (OSI)
        – Free Software – According to the Free Software Foundation (FSF)
        – Free of Charge Software – Freeware – Gratis – It is different from “Free Software” and “Open Source”.

        And to recognize if it is “Free Software” (FSF) or “Open Source” (OSI) you need to always know which license does it use.

        Ex: Linux is under the GNU GPL license. It is recognized as “Free Software” and “Open Source Software”.
        Firefox is under the MPL license. It is recognized as “Free Software” and “Open Source Software”.

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