Reaction: Microsoft's new open-source pledge

So, Microsoft is giving am bunch of stuff away for free - firstly, free development software for students - Visual Studio Pro, SQL Server Enterprise, etc. As a student myself, this is pretty shiny - not sure if I'll take them up on their offer - not much into .NET, and mySQL has got some decent DB software (I like Linux better anyway - really, for anything but .NET, Linux is a better devel environment) - but its nice to know I've got the option. The only kicker I see there is once I graduate, said multi-hundred dollar pieces of software will cease to be free, and if I end up using it, I'll be stuck with old versions.

Other news: Microsoft is making big openness pledge - its opening up API's for many of their big money products, and letting plugins into Office to use other file formats. Now, commentators are flaming Microsoft for this being a low business ploy - the Office announcement came one day before they were being evaluated for (highly lucrative) open source accreditation on their Office Open XML file formats, and the APIs are free only for non-commercial use. Now, Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols (who, I gotta say, is a bit of a FOSS zealot) said "Microsoft isn't offering open source a new opportunity, it's offering open source a trap." I wouldn't go that far - sure, that means that any commercial open source companies will have to licence Microsoft's technology - I say that's fair - open source is all well and good, but MS has a right to make money on their work. I predict the commercial companies will license APIs for better compatibility, some of that might trickle down to non-commercial implementations. But, overall, Linux, etc. will play better with Windows, etc. but things aren't really going to change - Microsoft will still spew FUD, the FOSS ecosystem will still have flaky and/or hacked integration with the MS ecosystem, and, in general, things won't be different.

This has been long, so, later.