Key Organizations in Free & Open-Source Software – Microsoft

Microsoft Corporation is an American software company, best known for its Microsoft Windows operating system, and Microsoft Office, office suite software. In recent years the company has diversed into Internet publishing and video game consoles, among other fields. The company was originally founded in 1975 and is headquartered in Redmond, Washington.

Microsoft is listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker MSFT, and employs 76,539 people as of 2007. The company had revenues of over US $51.1 billion, and net income of more than US $14 billion as of 2007.

Historically, Microsoft has not always been popular with all sections of the open  source  community. This is partly for historical reasons, and partly because Microsoft is perceived by some as being opposed to the goals and values of the open  source  movement. Furthermore, some senior figures in the company have made some negative comments about open  source  generally, as well as the Linux operating system in particular – for example, Steve Ballmer once famously described the GPL as “a cancer”, and the company has also made various made allegations about possible patent infringements in Linux.

Despite this, Microsoft has in fact engaged in some open  source , activities. Microsoft has even shipped some software under the GPL (Microsoft Services for UNIX), and other software under the CPL (Windows Installer XML – “Wix”), which is an OSI approved open  source  license.

Microsoft’s open  source  activities have largely been carried out as part of the company’s “Shared  Source ” initiative. This initiative is an umbrella term encompassing a range of projects, including open  sourcing  some programs, making other programs’  source  code available for viewing-only under fairly restrictive licenses, and developing new copyright license agreements (some of which might eventually be certified as meeting the OSI’s Open  Source  Definition, whereas others allow  source  code viewing but not editing, and only on restrictive terms).