Microsoft said that it has learned a lot from its increased engagement with the open-source world, adding that open source is also now the “accepted model” for collaboration between companies.
Microsoft was once one of the purest purveyors of proprietary software, but it has gone some way toward shedding that image over the past decade, according to a report in Venturebeat.
Spearheaded in large part by Satya Nadella, who oversaw .NET’s open-sourcing, Microsoft’s joining of the Linux Foundation, and the open-source initiative, Microsoft has pushed hard to convince the world that it’s “all-in on open source.”
The year 2020 continued on a similar footing, with Microsoft open-sourcing more of its own technologies. The company also created (and joined) the Open Source Security Foundation (OSSF) alongside old foes Google and IBM, and it emerged as the top external contributor to Google’s open-source Chromium project.
In a blog post published Thursday, Microsoft said that an industry-wide embrace of open source technology has encouraged cross-company collaboration, particularly among the tech giants, which can bypass much of the lawyering to join forces in weeks rather than months.
This highlights the role that open source plays in bringing the big tech behemoths of the world together.
“A few years ago if you wanted to get several large tech companies together to align on a software initiative, establish open standards, or agree on a policy, it would often require several months of negotiation, meetings, debate, back and forth with lawyers … and did we mention the lawyers?,” wrote Sarah Novotny, Microsoft’s open-source lead for the Azure Office of the CTO.
“Open source has completely changed this: it has become an industry-accepted model for cross-company collaboration. When we see a new trend or issue emerging that we know would be better to work on together to solve, we come together in a matter of weeks, with established models we can use to guide our efforts.”
The company highlighted several ways that it’s learning from its investments in open source, including the importance of listening to community feedback; the need to help employees find a balance between autonomy and adhering to company policy; and why “over-communicating” can help remove uncertainty and stress.