Is Microsoft the cathedral? Is open source the bazaar?

by Matt Asay

Open source is not as open as it claims, and Microsoft is not as closed as is claimed. Thus spake Brad Abrams, group program manager for ASP.NET AJAX at Microsoft.
Abrams argued that Microsoft is not the cathedral when it comes to ASP.NET AJAX but is quite transparent. Furthermore, he stated that most successful open source efforts are backed by a commercial vendor, making them less bazaar than they claim to be.

"I'm not sure the bazaar analogy works," Abrams said. "Neither cathedral nor bazaar are the same in the AJAX Web space; rather there is a continuum that reaches across space."

According to Abrams, ASP.NET AJAX offers the best of both the commercial and open worlds. On the commercial side Microsoft offers 24 x 7 support. "In the open source world you can talk to people and get answers," Abrams said. "But we're offering guaranteed support."...

On the open side of things, Abrams claimed that Microsoft was providing ASP.NET AJAX components with 100 percent source code availability. The components are being licensed under Microsoft's permissive license, which allows users to view, modify and redistribute source code for non-commercial and/or commercial purposes.
Fair enough, and no doubt true. It also points to an important point (though not stated): different groups within Microsoft are more open than others. I'm willing to bet that the emerging groups have more leeway to be open than the old cash cows within the company. That's to be expected.

3 Comments

Michael Peters
2007-03-26 11:32:26
Of course they are offering their AJAX code as open source. AJAX is mostly Javascript and there is not good way to hide that code from users and developers. Since the beginning of the web people have been viewing the Javascript source of web pages, borrowing it and tweaking it for their own pages. This doesn't change any of that.
Brad Abrams
2007-03-27 00:20:51
Michael -- Thanks for your comments... I think it is fair to say that Microsoft is trying some new stuff as we respond to the changing needs of our customers. As customers need more of the system to be avialable in source form, we will try to enable that. Look for more on this.. BTW, you can find more on the AJAX World keynote that started this at: http://blogs.msdn.com/brada/archive/2007/03/21/ajaxworld-keynote-ajax-in-the-balance.aspx
Sean Kerner
2007-03-27 06:47:37
From where i sat,there were more than a few people that 'cringed' when Brad Abrams made his comments. I still think though that the fact that he ran ASP.NET AJAX on Ubuntu though was really neat and perhaps open too.