I usually leave coverage of Microsoft's involvement with open source technology, communities and companies in the capable hands of IT Business Edge's Lora Bentley. She's got a great post today on Microsoft's agreement to co-sponsor OpenLogic's Open Source Census. Of course, any connection between Microsoft and open source anything brings out the accusations of conspiracy on the part of Redmond. Can't be up to anything good, right?
I want to point out a few factors here, though:
The Open Source Census site, as of today, lists 13 sponsors, including OpenLogic. One is an analyst firm. One is a law firm. I see no evidence that the open source folks who suspect Microsoft of nefarious doings and have no compunctions about making those kinds of accusations have demonstrated any public support for the census.
OpenLogic invited Microsoft, along with hundreds of other companies, to become involved with the census as sponsors.
And why did OpenLogic invite Microsoft to get involved?
Because the census is failing.
For whatever reason, only 1,200 machines have been scanned since the project began a few months ago. It seems that either the census is not publicized well enough, there is not enough interest in participating and submitting data, or there is not a clear enough statement of purpose for the census.
Seems to me that with Microsoft's involvement and the amount of press it has brought to the census, the participation will now see a sharp increase and might actually collect enough data to be able to draw some reasonable conclusions about certain slices of open source usage today. I certainly hope, as well, that I don't see claims further down the road that the census was unable to collect sufficient data on open source usage for analysis -- and that it is the fault of Microsoft.
Open source guys, you can thank Microsoft now.