Microsoft announces its standalone Open Tech subsidiary will “rejoin” company

Some interesting news from across town today:

Microsoft is shuttering its three-year old Microsoft Open Technologies subsidiary, which the company originally created to “advance Microsoft’s investment in openness including interoperability, open standards and open source.”

Microsoft officials characterized the move as Microsoft Open Tech “rejoining” Microsoft, rather than closing down. In an April 17 blog post, company officials said that the Open Tech unit had “reached its key goals” now that “open source technologies and engineering practices are rapidly becoming mainstream across Microsoft.”

When it was founded, Microsoft Open Tech was one of the forces championing open source inside the company. Its original team of 70 or so included engineers, standards professionals and technical evangelists. The head of MS Open Tech, Jean Paoli, was a well-known standards contributor and had helped jump start XML development in IE, Windows and Office.

No one is losing their job as a result of today’s restructuring.

Microsoft has certainly come a long way since former CEO Steve Ballmer infamously declared to the Chicago Sun-Times that “Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches”.

It’s open-sourced some of its own formerly proprietary software and contributed code to the Linux kernel. More recently, a key figure within Microsoft – the much-beloved Mark Russinovich – speculated that one day, Windows itself might become open source software.

That would indeed be something to behold.