A $3 Billion Donation

Earlier this week, Microsoft agreed to grant royalty free licenses for 60,000 of its patents for Open Invention Network (OIN) members as it joins the group. The patents include a number that affect Android, Linux, OpenStack, and more. As recently as a few years ago, Microsoft was making over $3 billion from this set of patents, including a billion dollars from Samsung.

To be fair, licensing revenue has been declining, so this isn’t likely a $3b gift, but it’s still substantial and more important, it’s a positive step forward.

Actually, it’s a surprising move, and one that seems to have stunned many journalists and open source advocates. There are numerous stories that seem to describe the move with disbelief, which is a position I would have held until recently. If I had seen this post from Erich Anderson, Microsoft’s Deputy General Counsel, I would have parsed the language, looking for the careful crafting of phrases that indicated some future duplicitous action.

Instead, as I’ve worked with more and more people from Microsoft and talked with them about upcoming changes, I’ve found that Microsoft is truly changing. They’re becoming more open, and trying to prove their services and software are worth using, not trying to lock customers into an environment they can’t easily leave.

Nowhere is this more evident than Azure, where there are quite a few Linux VMs. In fact, I thought I heard that there were more Linux than Windows VMs earlier this year, but I can’t find confirmation. In any case, Microsoft supports free and open source software (FOSS), including MySQL as a Service. Incidentally, that powers tsqltuesday.com. I moved the site there earlier this year, using Microsoft’s MySQL services.

Microsoft is a for profit company, and I expect that they want you to use their software in addition to services. That’s no surprise, but they are becoming less cutthroat and much more welcoming. Scott Guthrie, who leads the cloud and enterprise group, noted that “It’s not just code, it’s community.”

That’s been my philosophy here are SQLServerCentral. We’re a community, and the vision from Brian, Andy, and I was to share and help others as much as we could. We continued that with SQL Saturday, and we continue that today in our own ways. Andy and I try to support individuals in various ways. Brian has really put his money forward in this area with the Pragmatic Works Foundation.

We’re a community. All of us. We compete, we argue, we laugh, we cry, but we’re a community and we can all try to grow our business, improve our skills, and advance our industry as a community. I’m proud to be a member of the SQL Community and the #sqlfamily.

Steve Jones

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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