Microsoft Reveals Its Source

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft is going OpenSource, sort of. On Thursday, the Redmond-based company announced that it would make key components of its application programming interfaces available online; over 30, 000 pages of documentation will be available detailing Windows client and server protocols.

Before the announcement, software developers had to pay for access to the information, but now the company is hoping this move will make it easier for third-party software makers to ensure their programs will work smoothly on Windows operating systems. (Source:

Microsoft's decision is motivated in part by pressure from European regulators over antitrust concerns. Last fall, a European court ruled against the software giant and the company agreed to make its information available to competitors. In a statement, CEO Steve Ballmer said, "Microsoft's long-term success depends on our ability to deliver a software and services platform that is open, flexible and presents customers and developers with choice." (Source:

Another, and perhaps more important factor, is the increasing appeal of free software readily available on the Internet. Competition is coming from places Microsoft never could have dreamed of several years ago. OpenOffice, a well-designed office software suite developed in part by Sun Microsystems, now has a user base in the tens of millions. The Mozilla foundation is leading the attack on Internet Explorer's dominance with its superior Firefox browser, and Thunderbird, a powerful email client is becoming increasingly popular. The company is also working on a host of other programs including a mobile browser, a calendar application and an all-in-on Internet application similar to the now defunct Netscape suite. Smaller companies and communities are also developing everything from simple text editors to FTP clients to Linux-based operating systems that are starting to build a healthy customer base in the desktop market.

Microsoft's appeal to open source developers may improve the company's image as well as providing customers with better software. But, as everyday users turn away from expensive software suites in favor of free programs, Ballmer's team may have to do more than open up its code to developers if it wants to stay out in front.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet