Microsoft Corp is expected to announce today that it has entered into a collaboration agreement with open source customer relationship management software vendor SugarCRM Inc to improve interoperability between Windows and the SugarCRM software suite.
The surprise relationship will see Microsoft and Cupertino, California-based SugarCRM teaming up to enhance SugarCRM’s software for Microsoft’s Windows Server, Internet Information Services, and SQL Server.
The interoperability agreement follows up on a similar relationship struck between Microsoft and open source Java middleware vendor JBoss Inc in September 2005 and is indicative of Microsoft’s changing attitude towards open source software.
That relationship was put together by Bill Hilf, the former head of Microsoft’s Linux and Open Source Software Lab, who assumed responsibility for the company’s Shared Source Initiative in December.
Like the relationship with JBoss, Microsoft’s agreement with SugarCRM is being pitched as one that makes pure business sense due to the fact that one-third of SugarCRM’s user base uses Windows. Microsoft is eager to point out that it does not reflect a change of thinking with regards to its own CRM software strategy.
The relationship does signal how much Microsoft’s attitude to open source software has changed over the years, however. Jointly developed technology is due to be released under the Microsoft Community License, one of two new shared source licenses introduced by the software vendor in October 2005 that were noted by the Free Software Foundation Europe to be compatible with the Free Software Definition.
The Microsoft Community License allows users to view, modify, and redistribute the code and ensures that any larger work distributed as a single file also needs to be licensed under the same license. It also enables developers to include their own code in separate files under a separate license.
As well as working to optimize SugarCRM for the Microsoft server technologies, the two companies will work to enable SugarCRM to use the Windows Installer XML (WiX) toolset to enable the software to be installed using Microsoft Installer for Windows Server 2003.
WiX is itself open source code, having been released by Microsoft under IBM Corp’s Common Public License (CPL) in April 2004. Microsoft has subsequently released the Windows Template Library (WTL) and C Sharp-based FlexWiki technology under open source licenses.