Just what is Microsoft up to?

Mark Brunelli

The big software company from Redmond has been sending mixed signals to the open source community of late, leaving some in the industry wondering if the famously anti-open Microsoft is either (A) finally warming up to the idea of open source software or (B) getting ready to launch some new kind of anti-open source offensive.

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Just a couple of weeks ago, Microsoft signed a deal with open source application server provider JBoss to make sure the companies' technologies work better together.

This past August, Microsoft's offer to jointly sponsor research into the total cost of ownership of Windows versus Linux was rejected by the Open Source Development Labs -- who apparently saw the move as a case of Microsoft extending a phony olive branch.

Earlier in the year, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said his company's Virtual Server 2005 Service Pack 1 would support Linux-based virtual machines.

Just what do you think all this means? Is Microsoft getting ready to get into the open source business, or is the company just playing politics? I'd like to hear what you have to say. Please send your comments to, and I'll include them in an upcoming SOS news story.

In the meantime, be sure to read this new Q&A with software expert Stephen O'Grady which takes a look at the Commonwealth of Massachusestts' controversial plan to dump Microsoft Office for OpenDocument.

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