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Microsoft – carefully – edges closer to the open-source community

PCA - Despite a rocky historical relationship with the open-source community, Microsoft's recent decision to create a specialized Open Technologies spinoff is the latest phase of its recent rapprochement with the open world -- as well as a canny defensive measure.

Jeffrey Hammond, a principal analyst for Forrester Research, says that the aim of the Open Technologies announcement is twofold.

"I think the big idea is that Microsoft wants to get more involved in the open-source community. And in order to do that they need to set up some firewalls to protect IP that they have in their corporate environment," he says. "Basically, what they want to be able to do is have a way that their lawyers will allow them to participate in open-source communities and even work with [them] without potentially infecting existing products."

The current crop of developers -- which Hammond refers to as the "Github generation" -- is heavily focused on working within open-source software communities, whose importance to the business software marketplace has grown rapidly.

"Those [communities] are now the planets around which vendors spin," he says.