Today on ZDNet UK Microsoft helps fuel Sourceforge growth "Microsoft has contributed several projects to the site, including FlexWiki, a Web-based collaboration tool; the Windows Template Library, a series of templates designed to simplify the writing of Windows programs; and Windows Installer XML, a set of tools used to build installation packages for Windows products. These tools have attracted combined downloads of more than 21,000 in the past 60 days, according to OSTG. "
Microsoft has contributed to the open source community three products until today with the following intentions:
1) The Windows Template Library – Microsoft's WTL Off to Open Source – "He said the goals of the shared source initiative are to support existing customers, encourage new development, push academic research and provide business opportunities for Microsoft partners. As for whether developers might see more Microsoft code on SourceForge in the future, the hints are clear." – It seems as if Microsoft understood that today in order to continue their platform leadership the past strategy of extensibility that was mainly based on releasing proprietary APIs does not cut it anymore. Developers today want a better control on the future of their product in the same level accustomed by the open source world where source code is available. This move can shift other platform vendors to embrace an open strategy regarding revealing their source code.
Still, the WTL provides only a glimpse into the source code of the Windows platform and only a vertical openness that goes down from the application level to the underlying infrastructure will achieve real trust in accelerating development of commercial products.
2) FlexWiki release – FlexWiki: Microsoft's Third Open Software Project – "FlexWiki was originally named SharpWiki, and was created by David Ornstein. Ornstein is currently a lead program manager with Microsoft's digital documents group" – This move acknowledges MS commitment to represent data in XML structure and will enable them an easier entrance into enterprise document management in the future. MS pitches .Net, which is built on an underlying XML data representation and the more "production" XML-based documents out there the more effective .Net will be together with an integrated enterprise document rights/assets management.
Update: See See Microsoft adding XML files to Office 12 .
3) Windows XML Installer – Microsoft Releases Source Code on SourceForge – In this release a rationale was not provided by MS spokesman and I can just speculate. An XML installer whether adopted by mainstream developers will enable a completion of .Net vision and could be a convenient entry point to deliver enterprise application lifecycle management solutions – a nice extension to MOM server.
This may be a sign for many future releases of selective code base by Microsoft and it should be perceived by developers as if it is an MS API release.