In early April Microsoft quietly released its first open source project, WIX, on Sourceforge. WIX, according to the project page, “The Windows Installer XML (WiX) is a toolset that builds Windows installation packages from XML source code. The toolset supports a command line environment that developers may integrate into their build processes to build MSI and MSM setup packages.”
While this is not a huge release of source code, it is an interesting step as Microsoft perhaps begins to explore the open source community. There are some interesting blog entries on the project leader’s weblog, found here. The project was released under a non-modified Common Public License.
There is applicability to web developers using the .Net platform, as Microsoft’s own internal groups, including the msn.com division, are using the toolset to build installation packages for web applications.
More interesting is this foray into open source and especially the use of Sourceforge, considered the predominant open source development portal. Perhaps the new experience of working with a community of seasoned open source developers, especially those interested in seeing more open source solution built for or ported to Windows (and the opposite as well! Think .net on Linux – see the Mono Project).
The controls the group has placed on contributed code has drawn some criticism, however, I have worked on open source projects intended for commercial consumption with very strict conditions on source control, so the care and concern given to implementing modified code to the project should not seem shocking.