"At first blush, the Mono Project seems ingeniously
subversive. Led by a Boston startup called Ximian, volunteer
programmers are attempting to build an open-source version of
.Net framework, a set of software parts that could allow the maker
of Windows to dominate a new class of Web applications. But Mono's
success may hinge on Microsoft's willingness to share lots of
underlying details about .Net -- a move that would go against its
Open source is the practice of revealing a program's underlying
blueprint, or source code, and, in some cases, making it available
for tinkering and redistribution through licensing agreements.
Microsoft has built its business on commercial software licenses
that typically prohibit customers from modifying or redistributing
source code. Not surprisingly, the company's executives have
expressed ambivalence about open source.
But separately, Microsoft has been an active contributor to
software standards. Last October, Microsoft, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)
and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:
HWP) submitted rough drafts for two standards to the European
Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA), an international
standards organization. The drafts outlined a programming language
called C# (pronounced C sharp) and accompanying software called the
common language infrastructure (CLI), which helps run programs
written in C#."