Microsoft Tries its Hand at Open-Source Philanthropy

Ryan Whitwam

The nonprofit CodePlex Foundation is being set up with backing from Microsoft . The Redmond based software company has contributed $1 million, and provided numerous Microsoft employees to run the nonprofit’s board. Microsoft’s former senior director of platform strategy, Sam Ramji, will serve as the temporary head of CodePlex.

Before you go thinking this is totally out of the ordinary for Bill Gate’s baby, the CodePlex website clears a few things up. CodePlex says that commercial companies are under-represented in the open-source world. While this may seem like a natural situation, the new Microsoft backed venture intends to change that.  The “about” page on the foundation’s site says that companies will be encouraged to contribute code, not patents.

With code still bound by patents, it is unlikely that the larger open-source community will care to get involved. There may be a certain logic to the CodePlex Foundation, though. Allowing a company to contribute code, without giving up their patents may bring new ideas to open-source in the long run. Even with these favorable conditions, will businesses cooperate with an open-source foundation?

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