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A Microsoft Veteran Embraces Open Source

Keith Curtis has just written a book about the future of software. That in itself isn’t unique. More unusual is that Mr. Curtis, an 11-year veteran of Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, believes deeply that open source is the future of software.

Microsoft, of course, has long been the archenemy of the open source community, which is built on the notion of freely sharing intellectual property for the good of the community. I.B.M. and Sun Microsystems have embraced the open source cause, as have other technology giants. Even Apple’s OS X operating system is at its core open source — an Apple executive has said that more than 50 percent of the lines of code in OS X come from the open source Berkeley Software Distribution and related projects.

In contrast, Microsoft has made only grudging accommodations to the open source movement, offering some of its source code to programmers who use its technology while valiantly arguing that for-pay software is less expensive than free software when you consider the bigger picture.

Mr. Curtis, who joined Microsoft in 1993 and left in 2004, begs to differ. And while he says he holds no grudge against his former employer, in the long run, the company “is toast.”

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