Open sourcers mixed reaction to Microsoft pledges

Microsoft's pledge to improve interoperability between its products and open-source applications drew mixed reaction from the open-source community.

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Microsoft made a mountainous down payment on its high-profile pledge Thursday to improve interoperability and warm up its relationship with the open-source community, releasing some 30,000 pages of documentation for Windows client and server protocols.

But the reaction within the open-source community was varied, ranging from cautious praise to outright scorn.

"Our initial reaction was, 'Wow, great'," said Dominic Sartorio, president of the Open Solutions Alliance, an advocacy group backed by open-source vendors. "Now, 24 hours later, we've had a chance to look at it a bit more."

Microsoft's plans are "certainly not a fundamental change," Sartorio said. "They're not relinquishing patents, not open-sourcing code."

However, the value of even this incremental move will be substantial, Sartorio predicted. "Customers have been demanding interoperability between Microsoft and open source for a long time," he said. Systems integrators and other third parties will now "create this groundswell of interoperability," he said.

Other open-source players didn't take as long to reach a similar conclusion.

"The uncertainty and lack of information around Microsoft specifications has hindered the development of open-source solutions which leverage that technology," wrote Andi Gutmans, co-founder of Zend, maker of an open-source web development platform and a Microsoft partner, in a blog post Thursday.

"Microsoft is now enabling the open-source community to grow its contributor base around such technologies and significantly improve the delivered quality. As most open-source developers and users live in heterogeneous environments, this will benefit many."