Microsoft's Open Source Cowboy Takes the Reins of CoApp

Garret Serack of Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center is trying to make it easier to develop open source software on Windows with a new open source project called CoApp. Microsoft really is serious about open source

Mammas don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys. Well maybe all right, if they are going to be open source cowboys. That is just what Garret Serack appears to be over at the Microsoft Open Source Technology Center (I know you didn't know they had an open source technology center but they do). Garret has announced that he is heading up a new open source project called CoApp which stands for The Common Opensource Application Publishing Platform.

Now let me say that I don't know Garret personally and have never met him. All I know about him is what I learned from reading and researching for this post. But this is one cowboy whose character shines through. When you write things like:

‘Course, my pappy always used to tell me "it don't take a genius to spot a goat in flock of sheep" ... Sure, it's easy to see what the problem is, question is, how do we go about fixin' it?

You kind of get the flavor of the man, plus his logo is a cowboy hat and his personal blog is called Fear the Cowboy.

Garret has turned his passion and talents to address what he views as a major obstacle to developing more open source software on Windows. From the project site he says "CoApp aims to create a vibrant Open Source ecosystem on Windows by providing the technologies needed to build a complete community-driven Package Management System, along with tools to enable developers to take advantage of features of the Windows platform."

Where in the Linux/Unix world, regardless of which flavor you use there is generally a very consistent structure you can count on, that structure is very, very different than in Windows. CoApp is about more than just a single software app, it is really about creating a entire Windows based ecosystem for package management.

The independent but still Microsoft sponsored CodePlex Foundation has accepted CoApp into the foundation as part of the Systems Infrastructure and Integration Gallery. CoApp is the second app in the gallery, which was "formed to support projects that promote interoperability in heterogeneous computing environments that include Windows and open source technologies."

According to Serack's blog on this on Port25, Microsoft is allowing him to focus 100% of his time on this project. But Microsoft will not be steering this ship. Garret says "the design is entirely the work of myself and the CoApp community, I don't have to vet it with anyone inside the company." For those of you unfamiliar, Port25 is the blog for the open source community at Microsoft. 

Hey, I think this is a very ambitious project and wish Garret God's speed in tackling it. Regardless though, there is a bigger message here.  Microsoft is indeed serious about open source. They are putting real resources behind this effort in a very public manner. Just as in the security world we stopped joking about Microsoft and security being an oxymoron some time ago, the time is rapidly approaching where Microsoft and open source could go perfect together.

Can you imagine that? Microsoft and open source hand in hand. Anything is possible.  In the meantime good luck to Cowboy Garret. Here is a little cowboy music in his honor.  Have a great weekend!

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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