Microsoft today announced that it has joined the Open Source Initiative (OSI) as a Premium Sponsor. The OSI, which launched in 1998, takes a relatively pragmatic approach to open source and advocates for open source in business and government. The OSI also reviews open source licenses, which are often vendor specific, to ensure that they conform to "community norms and expectations."
As a premium sponsor, Microsoft joins the likes of Google, IGM, HPE, AdblockPlus, GitHub and Heptio as top sponsors of the project. Other sponsors at lower levels include RedHat, The Linux Foundation, Mozilla and HP.
"The work that Open Source Initiative does is vital to the evolution and success of open source as a first-class element in the software industry. As Microsoft engages with open source communities more broadly and deeply, we are excited to support the Open Source Initiative's efforts," writes Jeff McAffer, Director of Microsoft's Open Source Programs Office, in today's announcement.
It's worth noting that Microsoft has been working with the OSI for a couple of years now. It submitted its Microsoft Community License and Microsoft Permission License in 2005 and 2007. It's also no secret that Microsoft has massively expanded its portfolio of open source projects over the last few years.
Still, there remains a good amount of skepticism in the open source and free software community around why Microsoft is doing this. The fact that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once called Linux a cancer still echoes through the collective unconscious of the open source world. Microsoft is quite aware of this, but so far, its recent actions show that it now understands how to best engage with and participate in the open source community.