At the recent Professional Developers Conference, Microsoft made a very shocking announcement. They are going to allow Windows Azure to support Mysql. Windows Azure is Microsoft’s new cloud platform that will launch on January 1st. The idea is for applications to run in web browsers so they can communicate with the cloud. In doing this, they are allowing developers to use PHP, Mysql, and a number of other open-source tools but no word on ActionScript and Coldfusion. This announcement has lost much of its shock value. Once you think about it, it is a very smart move by Microsoft. If they can get Mac and Linux users to use their Azure then they have just opened their market up to a large number of people they have never been able to reach before.
This smart move will allow Microsoft to use the open-source tools such as Mysql in a way to get around the GPL. They are using Mysql to make money without directly selling it. I believe this is something that the GPL did not account for when it was written. I am and have always have been a firm believer in open-source software. Initially, I was happy that Microsoft seemed to be turning over a new leaf, but unsurprisingly, it appears to be the same old Microsoft. I believe that the GPL will have to be modified before this type of problem becomes common place. This will be very interesting to see the development in the future.
This is a possible backfire in this for Microsoft. If the open-source community feel that they are being taken advantage of they it may do more damage then good. Microsoft already has a poor reputation with most if not all of the open-source community. Also if the Apple gets into the game, then Microsoft may find themselves being one of the first out of the gate, but be left behind because of pure spite.