Steven Sinofsky, a former Windows Division chief, has provided some information regarding an age-old dispute. Microsoft was on open source in the 1990s and 2000s, one of the company’s most controversial traits.
Sinofsky has posted a series of tweets in response to recent articles about chief legal counsel Brad Smith’s admission that Microsoft’s open-source disputes had put it on the “wrong side of history.”
One of the most famous quotes about Microsoft’s anterior approach to open source came from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who, in 2001, called Linux a “cancer,” while Bill Gates spoke that the GPL (GNU General Public License) “gobbled up proprietary software like Pac-Man.”
However, the situation took a turn when Microsoft ported SQL Server to Linux. After that happened, Ballmer said that he no longer percepts Linux as cancer, but he still backed up his statement based on the conjuncture when it was published.
During the period when he used to oversee Windows and Office, Sinofsky has tried to put some context around the company’s new attitude and former antagonism to open source.
Sinofsky’s defense reasons for Microsoft are based on Gates’ explanation from 2001 that “it makes it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work.”
Sinofsky also accentuated that times were different when Microsoft started. The company itself “was founded on the principle that software was intellectual property.”
Microsoft is now a big fan of open source as its focus is orienting towards cloud computing and Azure.
The company will most likely never return to the anti-open-source state it used to find itself in decades ago.
Google is also a big player in the open-source software game, which means that rivalry is intense, and straying too far from the new norm can be catastrophic for a company even as big as Microsoft.