Microsoft finally acknowledges that open source is mainstream

Microsoft may have finally acknowledged that open source is mainstream. About time.

Microsoft just announced the obvious: open source is an increasingly critical (and common) component of software today, including proprietary software. The open-source software in question is jQuery, an excellent open-source javascript library that Microsoft will be including in its Visual Studio application development platform.

Of course, this has always been the case at Microsoft, what with MSN Messenger and other products incorporating open-source components for years, but this is perhaps the first time that Microsoft has publicly welcomed open source as part of its software infrastructure, and has shown a desire to contribute back to existing communities. Microsoft's Scott Hanselman enthusiastically acknowledges the inclusion of jQuery:

...[W]e're using jQuery just as it is. It's Open Source, and we'll use it and ship it via its MIT license, unchanged. If there's changes we want, we'll submit a patch just like anyone else. JQuery will also have full support from PSS (Product Support Services) like any other Microsoft product, starting later this year. Folks have said Microsoft would never include Open Source in the platform, I'm hoping this move is representative of a bright future.

Me, too. Microsoft is too big and too important a company to have ignored the missing ingredient in its open-source strategy: contribution back to existing communities. Open source can be a fantastic complement to Microsoft's existing products and to its businesses. Open source is a tool. It's a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.

Did Microsoft finally join the open-source community? It looks like it from here. Now if we can just keep Ballmer quiet for a few months so that this seed sprout and begin to grow....

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