Microsoft Warms up to Open Source with Web Sandbox

Dennis Faas's picture

After flirting with open source development for some time, Microsoft has made another step towards real commitment with the release of source code for Web Sandbox, a program used to test and secure web site content. (Source:

The Sandbox source code will be released under the Apache 2.0 license, an open source license agreement allowing the content creator to maintain copyright while permitting others to develop the product for their own use. Microsoft has gradually been increasing their involvement with the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) since 2008 when they agreed to fund development of certain ASF initiatives. (Source:

Earlier this year Microsoft donated source code for ASF's "Stonehenge" proposal, a collaborative project with contributions from Apache, Microsoft, Redhat, and WS02. (Source:

Similar to Web Sandbox, Stonehenge is "a set of example applications for Service Oriented Architecture that spans languages and platforms and demonstrates best practice and interoperability." (Source:

Yet while the Stongehenge code donation was released under a license derived from the Open Source Initiative (OSI), not all of Microsoft's open source efforts are quite as transparent. The Web Sandbox release, for instance, is not endorsed by the ASF despite the ongoing relationship between Apache and Microsoft. (Source:

Microsoft's Future with Open Source

Release of proprietary materials could indicate that Microsoft is finally warming up to the idea of integrating open source-compatible components into the Windows platform after years spent courting the open source development community. However, in light of the current economy and the large number of recent Microsoft layoffs and cutbacks, there is much speculation as to what the software giant hopes to gain from their alliance with the ASF.

According to Peter Galli, Open Source Community Manager for Microsoft, the goal is an open source standard "...that will help foster interoperability with complementary technologies like script frameworks and drive widespread adoption of the Web Sandbox." (Source:

Interoperability is certainly a great goal -- but for a company currently facing financial pressure and escalating competition, the words "widespread adoption" may have a more soothing effect. Whatever the motivation for Microsoft's expanding open source activity, having the support of a magnum company like Microsoft will definitely help organizations like the ASF to move forward more rapidly.

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