Does Microsoft see open source in its future?

Microsoft may be gearing up for something of an open source future, with a new open source programming language project possibly slated for release in 2014. Is it for real, or just a cheap, easy way for Microsoft to get good PR?

Microsoft is working on Midori, a non-Windows operating system,and the language used to write it, M#, may be released as open source, according to Mary Jo Foley. But you don't have to just take Foley's word for it. Joe Duffy, a member of the team working on Midori, blogged that "My goal is to eventually open source this thing," referring to M# not to Midori. He hinted that M# could be released in 2014.

The big news is not just that Microsoft may release M# as open source, but that Microsoft is working on a non-Windows operating system. It's been a skunkworks project since at least 2008. It's become more prominent recently, because it was moved into Microsoft's new centralized operating systems group, which makes it more likely that it will eventually be released.

Is Microsoft truly serious about making M# open source? I think there's reason to believe that it is. It hasn't been lost on Microsoft that the fastest-growing operating system in the world is the open source Android.

And Microsoft is even considering giving away Windows Phone for free to device makers, in the hopes that it will lead to a big increase in market share. It's true that there's no evidence that Microsoft has any plans of making Windows Phone open source, but even considering giving it away shows that the company is open to new business models. With Ballmer on the way out, such moves are more likely than they've ever been, including releasing software as open source.

So I don't think this is a simple PR ploy. Don't be surprised if M# is open sourced upon its release.

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