Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Microsoft invites Mozilla's Firefox browser and Thunderbird

The welcome mat is being rolled out for Mozilla developers at the Windows Vista Readiness ISV Lab, which has traditionally been open only to commercial software developers. The lab is a four-day event held in Microsoft's hometown of Redmond, Washington, every week through December and provides office space for four people, hardware, VPN access, and communication with product team developers and support staff, Ramji wrote.

"I'm committed to evolving our thinking beyond commercial companies to include open source projects, so I went to the non-trivial effort of getting slots for non-commercial open source projects," he explained.

The invitation also included a poke at the open source community, as Ramji noted, "I sent this invitation to as well, but in case their spam filters are set to e-mail addresses, I'm posting here."

There was no immediate response from Mozilla to Microsoft's unorthodox approach. While Microsoft has been at odds with the open source community, the company's recent overture is seen by some industry watchers as a concession that it's no longer a Windows-only world.

"What's unusual about this announcement is that it was done in such a public fashion," said Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox. "Microsoft could very easily contact Mozillla on their own without making such a splash."

Wilcox noted that in setting up its Port 25 site to woo end users and independent software developers, Microsoft realizes that more businesses are now running Linux, Unix, and Mac operating systems, in addition to Windows, and need the platforms to work together.

"The idea is to create a community where people can interact and share their ideas, and to show that Microsoft is willing to cooperate," the analyst said. "They really don't have much to fear from Firefox or Thunderbird, but those are two very strong applications."

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