Microsoft's sugary introduction to open source

On St Valentine's day - surely a coincidence, SugarCRM announced that they were to collaborate with the once-open source nemesis Microsoft. SugarCRM is a commercial open source customer relationship management that was project of the month for open source directory Sourceforge.net back in September 04 and is the first to join Microsoft’s open source-like license.

Think of it as a cross Salesforce and Sharepoint to get an idea. Now Microsoft does not often support open source even if they have recently published a page called "Microsoft and Open Source" and is a wonderful introduction in the mindset of the Redmondian software company.

Microsoft does not do open source per se. Instead, it has a slightly different version of its own called shared source, to which SugarCRM adhered. That was done at the Open Source Business Conference and that was definitely not a coincidence. Either a great piece of PR or a very smart way to get public attention to what Microsoft sees as open source biggest weakness - support. The shared source license allows strategic partners of Microsoft to get access to code and is slightly more difficult to comprehend as compared to the General Public License.

Funnily enough, SugarCRM might show the way to other companies. SugarCRM might open source the software but it does sell the support - which is where it makes the money. Open source the code, sell the services, a winning combination.

Microsoft has come a long way from its "Linux is a cancer" stance back in 2001 to humbly acknowledge that it "has been learning from the OSS community regarding the benefits of deeper collaboration and increased transparency leading to better communication with customers".