New Microsoft Open Source Foundation Doesn’t Allay Suspicion

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

Microsoft’s Codeplex Foundation, ostensibly supporting open source, arrives at a time when the company’s actions are under suspicion, as usual

Microsoft has announced a new foundation to support open-source software – just days after being accused of attempting to poison the open source world by releasing potentially harmful Linux-related patents into the hands of patent trolls.

The new CodePlex Foundation will be led by Sam Ramji, Microsoft’s senior director of Platform Strategy, and the man who has had to deal directly with various factions of the open-source community, including the Apache Software Foundation and the Eclipse Foundation.

Other interim board members of the new foundation are primarily from Microsoft, at this point. They include Bill Staples, head of Microsoft’s Internet Information Services team; Stephanie Boesch, a Microsoft program manager for the .Net Framework; Miguel de Icaza, vice president of developer platform at Novell; Britt Johnston, a Microsoft product unit manager for data and modelling; and Shaun Walker, co-founder and chief architect of DotNetNuke.

The CodePlex Foundation’s Website describes the group as “a non-profit foundation formed with the mission of enabling the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities, launched today, September 10, 2009.”

Moreover, the foundation’s site reads:

“The CodePlex Foundation will complement existing open source foundations and organizations, providing a forum in which best practices and shared understanding can be established by a broad group of participants, both software companies and open source communities. Initial funding for the Foundation comes from Microsoft Corporation.”

In addition, according to the site, the CodePlex Foundation is an extension of the CodePlex brand established by Codeplex.com, Microsoft’s community development site where the company hosts open-source, shared source and other technologies. The site hosts more than 10,000 projects.

However, “The Foundation is solving similar challenges; ultimately aiming to bring open source and commercial software developers together in a place where they can collaborate,” an FAQ on the CodePlex Foundation site said. “This is absolutely independent from the project hosting site, but it is essentially trying to support the same mission. It is just solving a different part of the challenge, a part that Codeplex.com isn’t designed to solve.”

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Microsoft sold 22 Linux-related patents. While they were bought by an open source promotion body although Jim Zemlin, director of the Linux Foundation, has  pointed out that Microsoft must have known they would otherwise fall into the hands of patent trolls who would hinder open source