Late last year, the company announced its .NET server stack would be open source, enabling .NET to become a cross-platform framework. The company has placed thousands of open source repositories on its Github account. When asked if Windows could one day be open source, Mark Russinovich, one of Microsoft’s top engineers says, “It’s definitely possible, it’s a new Microsoft.” Microsoft even has a website that explains its strategy and showcases open source projects its involved with.
Microsoft Azure Teams Up with WordPress
I initially noticed the company’s change in attitude towards open source in 2009 when Microsoft’s chief technology officer, Ray Ozzie, announced at the Professional Developers Conference that WordPress could be run using the Azure platform. Windows Azure is a cloud platform that enables you to build, deploy, and manage WordPress sites across a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers. In a post on the WordPress.com VIP blog, Matt Mullenweg explained why it’s a good move.
WordPress and Windows Azure probably aren’t the first two things you’d think of together. WordPress has been free and open source software from the very beginning, Windows not so much, but we’ve always supported as many platforms as possible and for at least 4 years now you could run WP on Windows and IIS (Internet Information Services).
Choice and competition are great for spurring innovation and better for users and I believe open source software is a good thing even if it’s on a proprietary platform. (Just like we have an open source iPhone application, or encourage people to use Firefox on Windows.)
Supporting the WordPress Community
Since 2009, Microsoft has sponsored several WordCamps, meetups, and WordPress specific events. I remember attending a WordCamp in 2010 sponsored by Microsoft and joking with attendees that it must be a mistake.
However, one of Microsoft’s representatives was in attendance and assured me that the company was changing its position on open source and sponsoring WordCamps was a good way to spread the message.
Examples of Microsoft Using WordPress
WebDevStudios, a company that specializes in web development using WordPress, has migrated several of Microsoft’s key websites to WordPress. In late 2014, Microsoft’s News Center re-launched on WordPress. The work involved a custom design and complex data migration from a proprietary CMS to WordPress, across 38 sites, in 16 different languages.
Around the same time, the company migrated Microsoft Europe to WordPress. Microsoft Europe focuses on Connected Lifestyles, What’s Next, Transforming Business, and Impact on Society for European countries.
The Microsoft Windows blog is a WordPress multisite network devoted to Windows and Internet Explorer topics. The blogs within the network are in multiple foreign languages that focus on content related to that region of the world.
The Last Laugh
It’s impressive to think how much Microsoft has changed to entertain the idea of open sourcing Windows. In 2007, when Mullenweg predicted that Microsoft will open source its software by 2017, I thought it was one of the funniest posts I’ve ever read. After witnessing the progress the company has made and continues to make, it’s possible he might have the last laugh.