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:
- Windows Live suite is free software
- Microsoft .NET Framework is free software
- Codeplex is Microsoft’s project hosting for open source software
- Microsoft Webmatrix is free software
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.