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Microsoft Pledges Wider Support For Open Source Software

A Microsoft executive speaking at an open source software conference this week in San Francisco said the company will provide expanded interoperability between its proprietary software and open source software running in the same software stack. Sandy Gupta, general manager of the open solutions group at Microsoft, told the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) 2011 that Microsoft is now going to support the community version of the open source Linux operating system, in addition to its existing support for commercial versions of Linux. Gupta also announced Microsoft's support of the Windows Server2008 R2 Hyper-V hypervisor to run CentOS, a Linux distribution for application hosting vendors.

"Microsoft continues to work on becoming more open in how we develop solutions and work with the open source communities," Gupta wrote in a blog post prior to his keynote address. At the conference, he and colleague Fabio Cunha demonstrated how Microsoft System Center can manage a virtualized data center with a mix of both Windows and Linux servers.

Microsoft had long been philosophically at odds with the open source community because open source software is typically cheaper than Microsoft's licensed software, thus undercutting it in the market. But more recently, Microsoft has come to understand the appeal of open source, such as that the community around a particular open source project contributes to improvement in the quality of the software. The open solutions group Gupta runs at Microsoft works with multiple vendors to improve interoperability between Microsoft's software and open source software.

Microsoft has had to face the reality that open source is more accepted in the marketplace. A survey released in conjunction with OSBC 2011 revealed that 56 percent of respondents, the majority of whom were end users rather than vendors, predicted that, between now and 2015, half of their enterprise software purchases will be of open source software.

Open source software is more widely accepted because it doesn't have to prove anything anymore, says Erica Brescia, CEO of BitRock, a company that  provides tools and services for packaging, deploying and updating open source software stacks. In the beginning, open source advocates had to explain what open source was and allay user concerns about its quality and whether they would violate software patents by using it.

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