This post is the first in many on Microsoft, the Not-So-Evil Empire, in relation to programming related topics and sites. Many years ago, I ran in circles with the Toledo Area Linux Users Group and later on with some of the guys here in Cleveland. One thing I noticed with those crews is the strong anti-Microsoft sentiment throughout. However, I was upfront with them about my playing the field – I prefer to be able to switch between platforms without playing favorites. They put up with me, but the president of TALUG at the time reminded them that I had volunteered for Microsoft (the Gaming Zone, but still…) and would tease me for not being a loyal Linux user. Every time I gave a presentation, I would hear a line about it.

One of the things that the Linux people complained about was that Microsoft didn’t deal with open source. Their operating system isn’t open source, the programs aren’t open source, and there’s no support for open source. Insert the rest of the Linux complaints against Microsoft and anti-open source here.

The Linux community has always looked towards SourceForge as its open source repository. There are many different categories of software available – including databases, sysadmin stuff, games, and desktop stuff. Some better known Linux packages on SourceForge include: phpmyadmin, PHP SysInfo, Squirrel Mail, and Licq.

Something I noticed while writing this blog though was that SourceForge has definitely changed. There are definitely more Windows packages available. Some packages worth checking out include GIMP for Windows (similar to Photoshop, but open source and free), GNUWin32 – GNU tools for Windows, and Tight VNC.

Now Microsoft isn’t anti-open source. It just took them a little longer to get there. Introducing CodePlex, Microsoft’s open source hosting site… live since June 2006, it’s their attempt at getting open source projects in the Microsoft world. Some projects to check out include Iron Python, 3D Tools for WPF, Power Toys Pack Installer, and a managed library for the Wiimote.

So how does this make Microsoft not-so-evil (as opposed to the Evil Empire that Linux people really see it as)? By promoting open source, they are also promoting community interaction with their users. Each project may be worked on by one developer or many devs. Version control can be handled by numerous CVS tools including Tortoise SVN and TFS. Yes, SourceForge was out first, but let’s give Microsoft some credit for taking this step.

One beaten dead horse addressed, with many more to come (but not necessarily right away)…