Microsoft’s Open Source Company Is a Year Old. But What Is It?

Last week, Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. quietly turned one year old. The birthday passed without fanfare, but next week, Microsoft plans to host a birthday party at its Silicon Valley campus.

Microsoft Open Technologies is a bit of an odd duck: It’s an independent subsidiary set up to push open source efforts by the world’s most famous proprietary software company. When it was announced, it left more than a few people — ourselves included — scratching their heads.

After all, Microsoft had already set up another entity — an independent nonprofit organization called the Outer Curve Foundation — to manage open source efforts.

The difference is that although the Outer Curve Foundation is funded by Microsoft, it’s governed by its own rules. And according to the foundation’s executive director, Paula Hunter, more than half of Outer Curve’s projects are led by people outside of Microsoft.