Microsoft Goes Open Access; When Will It Go Open Source?
from the just-a-matter-of-time dept
Even though Microsoft is no longer the dominant player or pacesetter in the computer industry -- those roles are shared by Google and Apple these days -- it still does interesting work through its Microsoft Research arm. Here's some welcome news from the latter: it's moving to open access for its researchers' publications.
In a recent interview with Scientific American, Peter Lee, head of Microsoft Research, discussed three main motivations for basic research at Microsoft. The first relates to an aspiration to advance human knowledge, the second derives from a culture that relies deeply on the ambitions of individual researchers, and the last concerns "promoting open publication of all research results and encouraging deep collaborations with academic researchers."
It is in keeping with this third motivation that Microsoft Research recently committed to an Open Access policy for our researchers' publications.
The new open access policy provides some background for the move:
Microsoft Research is committed to disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible because we recognize the benefits that accrue to scholarly enterprises from such wide dissemination, including more thorough review, consideration and critique, and general increase in scientific, scholarly and critical knowledge.
Of course, that's hardly an original insight. It's been known for many years that opening up in order to allow others to review, critique and build upon your work is far more efficient for everyone than locking it up and preventing all those things. It's the basis of all science, for example. And closer to home for Microsoft, the benefits of opening up software have been evident for decades -- ever since Richard Stallman launched his GNU's Not Unix project, based on sharing and collaboration.
Given the fact that Microsoft Research evidently gets this, the interesting question is whether the main Microsoft management ever will. After all, the longer it holds out against releasing its main products as open source, the longer it deprives itself of all the advantages that Microsoft Research is now embracing.