Microsoft releases part of Web Sandbox code under the Apache License

On January 27 2009, that was 5 days ago, Microsoft said it has begun releasing much of the source code of a project named “Web Sandbox” under the terms of the Apache License version 2.

From a note on the project at Live Labs:

We provide an opportunity to test the Sandbox and find out whether it prevents the attacks you’re concerned about. It’s designed to improve the security, isolation and quality of service for your site and your users. The goal is to get to an open and interoperable standard in this space, creating a robust and long term solution.

You can help by trying to hack the code to find scenarios or exploits we haven’t thought of yet. The more you try to break it, the stronger it will get. Our goal is to involve the community and release a set of open source components that can be improved upon as time goes by.

I have a few remarks on this:

  • Microsoft finally recognizing the value of the Open Source development model, even with this small movement, is definitely a huge step forward. I was absolutely delighted to read about it. However, the fact that this movement contradicts with the company’s general attitude towards FOSS easily leads to the conclusion that the real reason they’ve released source code under an OSI approved license is this: Why pay to create something, while the “slaves” can create it for us for free and be happy with it?. It took them many years to realize that the Community, with the proper support from big corporations, can create high quality software. Well, they start to realize it now for good. Problem is they have fell a bit behind. Other software giants have spent over ten years of hard work in a remarkable attempt to create and maintain a good relationship with those who, under the right circumstances, may indirectly work for them for free. At this point, I should clarify that I do not (either directly or by implying it) undervalue all those people who voluntarily participate in projects sponsored by big corporations, like it happens with several Linux distributions, platforms for mobile devices, et cetera. In most cases, their involvement is a win-win situation for both them, especially if their field is computer software or if they just enjoy being social and creative, and the company behind those projects.
  • It’s been almost 5 days, over 100 hours, since Microsoft’s announcement at the Live Labs web site, but –please forgive me if I am wrong– I haven’t seen many comments of joy around the blogosphere about the “big FOSS enemy” finally acknowledging the value of the open source development model. On other occasions, free software evangelists have shown their great reflexes in responding to Microsoft’s FUD about FOSS, but this time they just keep away. This leads to other valuable conclusions, which… I will gently discard for the sake my limited free time.
  • OK. I admit it. The decisions and ambitions of both Microsoft and the Free Software evangelists are completely out of my scope of interest… The real reason I am happy about Web Sandbox going open source is that a software giant, like Microsoft, has chosen the Apache License to licence its source code. It is well known that I am a big fan of the Apache License and I publish almost everything that resembles software under the terms of the Apache License version 2. I think that Microsoft’s movement has added even more value to this license and shows that it has been created by real professionals.

Microsoft releases part of Web Sandbox code under the Apache License by George Notaras is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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About George Notaras

George Notaras is the editor of the G-Loaded Journal, a technical blog about Free and Open-Source Software. George, among other things, is an enthusiast self-taught GNU/Linux system administrator. He has created this web site to share the IT knowledge and experience he has gained over the years with other people. George primarily uses CentOS and Fedora. He has also developed some open-source software projects in his spare time.