Microsoft Windows May Go Open-Source

While it will not happen anytime soon, there is a possibility that Windows could eventually be an open-source platform, like Linux and UNIX before it.  According to Wired, Mark Russinovich, a Microsoft Technical Fellow who helped build Windows, discussed this possibility when he spoke at ChefCon, a conference put on by Chef, which is a tool used to help set up and operate the machines that drive business software, websites, and smartphone apps.

What is open-source software?  Open-source software is software that comes with a license for the source code, so that it can be modified by anyone who holds the license.  It allows the software to be altered by the user to fit the user’s needs.  It is essentially the software version of user-generated content, such as what is on most social media sites.  In other words, open-source software is software that can be developed in a collaborative, public manner.

What does this mean?  It means that the Windows operating system could eventually be tailored by the individuals who use it, rather than just by Microsoft themselves.  This is a major shift in the mentality of the company, who for a long time has been very protective of the intellectual property and code contained in their software.  Microsoft has already open-sourced their .NET tool, which is a popular way of building online applications, and allowed Linux on their Azure cloud computing service as the first steps in the open-source direction.

This shift is a reflection of the evolution of the technology industry.  The industry is beginning to move away from for-pay software and more into services and applications.  Also, open-sourcing Windows could actually expand its use to more consumers, since they could tailor it more to their needs, and increase the sales of their other apps and services.  When Russinovich asked the several hundred people in the audience (who run thousands of computers on a daily basis) how many of them use nothing but Windows to run their machines, only one raised his hand.  Those who work in the tech industry rely more and more on open-source tools, and Microsoft is beginning to recognize that they will either need to change with the times or risk extinction.

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