Microsoft Spends $100k On Open Source

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft is funding one of the biggest open-source organisations to the tune of $100,000. But it's not an out-and-out backing of the open-source concept. The software giant is giving the cash to the Apache Foundation, a non-profit group designed to co-ordinate several projects including the Apache web server, software that physically handles requests for web pages and the files involved.

Apache's web server arguably made the World Wide Web what it is today. At one point, the majority of sites used it and even today it's still the most popular with a 49% market share. Major sites such as Wikipedia and Google run on Apache servers or systems based on it.

Microsoft has become a Platinum sponsor of the Foundation, joining the likes of Yahoo and Google. As well as handing over the cash, they've provided some technical support and promised to allow certain technologies to be used by all developers without facing legal action. (Source:

It feels as if Microsoft is becoming friendlier with the open source world (though they probably won't be promoting Linux as an alternative to Vista any time soon). Indeed, just last month it joined a project measuring how popular open source software is around the world.

However, there is evidence of self-interest. For example, Apache now runs a wide range of projects that can be freely used. Some have already speculated Microsoft might want to use an Apache data-handling system to develop its own search facilities. Funding Apache would help avoid the embarrassing image of a major firm profiting from the open-source sector's work while continuing to promote commercial products.

It's also worth bearing in mind that Apache projects run under a qualified form of open-source licensing. Traditionally, open source allows users to modify software but in return share the changes with other developers -- the idea being to build a community based on combined knowledge. Apache's licence lets anyone alter software without sharing the details and even lets users bolt it on to existing commercial products. (Source:

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