Microsoft is joining the Open Invention Network, an open-source patent group that's dedicated to protecting linux from patent lawsuits, the company announced yesterday. Owing to this, 60,000 of Microsoft’s patents will become open source and available to OIN members. The announcement has come a surprise to many in the developer circles as Microsoft has been very protective of its patents in the past and have always shunned the open-source community, which they are supporting now.
Wondering what caused the sudden change of heart, well Microsoft exec Erich Andersen said "We (have) learned that collaborative development through the open source process can accelerate innovation." While adding that, “(By joining) OIN, we believe Microsoft will be able to do more than ever to help protect Linux and other important open source workloads from patent assertions. We also hope that our decision to join will attract many other companies to OIN, making the license network even stronger for the benefit of the open source community.”
Being a part of OIN, companies and individual developers are able to access both OIN-owned patents and cross-licenses between other OIN licensees without paying any royalty. Currently, OIN provides a license platform for "roughly 2,650 companies globally," including names like Google, IBM, NEC, Philips and Sony. And now with Microsoft entry, developers across the world have another reason to rejoice, as they take a major step forward.