Open Source Windows May Not Be that Big a Long Shot After All

Barb Darrow | Fortune | August 23, 2016

How far is Microsoft willing to go on this open-source charm offensive?

Here’s a burning question for the tech universe: Could Microsoft, which built its Windows cash cow on proprietary or closed-source software, reverse course and open-source Windows itself? That would be roughly akin to CocaCola COKE -0.80% posting its top-secret formula online. Crazy, right? Maybe not, although the very notion would have been unthinkable not too long ago. 

But it is now on the table considering all the things Microsoft MSFT -0.24% has done over the past few years to embrace the open-source community. The most recent example is last week’s news that the company is open-sourcing its PowerShell tool that helps developers manage Windows applications. Two years ago, it open-sourced the core elements of its .Net framework which is basic building blocks for software developers. This GitHub site lists all Microsoft’s open-source projects.

Generally speaking, in the open-source world, the basic nuts and bolts (aka the source code) of the software is available to developers who want to see it or even tweak and customize it, provided they comply with the software’s license. That is something they definitely cannot do now with Windows or Office, Microsoft’s other huge money maker...