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Outercurve - Just Another Microsoft Proxy/Group

Microsoft front gets another makeover

Sheep shearing



Summary: CodePlex/Microsoft wolf in new sheep's clothing; Free software luminaries are not foolish enough to fall for it

In order for Microsoft to speak on behalf of its opposition (Microsoft's CodePlex does this a lot), Microsoft must pretend to be a friend of the competition. But who would ever trust Microsoft within the community it is ridiculing, extorting, and sometimes even suing? That is why Microsoft created all sorts of shells.



“It sent loads of fake letters from dead people, all in support of Microsoft. Then it got caught red-handed and lost legitimacy.”One good example of a Microsoft shell is ATL, which as a service to its funder Microsoft decided to speak 'on behalf of' dead people. It sent loads of fake letters from dead people, all in support of Microsoft. Then it got caught red-handed and lost legitimacy. In some countries, such behaviour might put Microsoft and ATL members in prison, but in the US 'lobbying' (often a euphemism for corruption) is quite routine and almost never punished for. Anyway, from the ashes of ATL came ACT, which is pretty much the same group accommodating some of the same people under a different identity, using a new name (deceptive acronym meaning the opposite of what it works towards). It's a simple case of nymshifting and it happens not only to Microsoft front groups. Additionally, for extra credibility Microsoft tends to 'buy' those who are publicly perceived as Microsoft opponents; this helps Microsoft shut them up (Microsoft critics no more) and also poison or drain its pool of opposition.

Today we are seeing Microsoft engaging in yet another act of nymshifting. Having been publicly dismissed by many groups including the FSF, Microsoft's vacuum for Free/open source developers (CodePlex) is moving under a new 'umbrella', aptly name Outercurve (outer to Microsoft, only by means of obfuscation and illusion). Here is Microsoft's explanation for the symbolic move:

The branding, undertaken to reduce confusion and differentiate the not for profit foundation from the Microsoft owned and operated forge CodePlex.com, comes a year after the foundation’s launch. In that time the foundation has developed a governance model, hired executive and technical management and elected an independent Board of Directors. Additionally the foundation created a project acceptance and management process that enables it to accept and support contributed open source projects - six projects have been accepted to date.


As Simon Phipps put it, "The new initiative was being weighed down by its association with Microsoft, so this rebrand is an essential step if they are to achieve the potential they speak about."

Outercurve is just another proxy for Microsoft. It's hardly worth debating at all because it's obvious to anyone inside the Free software world (outsiders might be more gullible and also the crowd Microsoft is gunning for). Microsoft is just reworking the method of assigning staff to serve itself while they are distancing themselves, at least perceptually.

Here is why claiming that Outercurve is not Microsoft is an illogical proposition:

Microsoft launched the CodePlex Foundation in September 2009 as a way of bridging the open-source and business communities. The organization has since attempted to distance itself from its Microsoft roots, looking for outside funding and insisting on platform neutrality.


As The H put it, it's funded by Microsoft and it's about software patents too. It's not just run purely by Microsoft (it tried putting some people who were not previously Microsoft employees inside this shell).

Although it has been looking for further sponsors, the Outercurve Foundation is however, still solely sponsored by Microsoft and still describes itself as being able to "provide a software IP management process and project development governance to enable and encourage organisations to develop software collaboratively to develop results faster".


Red Hat's Fontana wrote: "It would be sort of funny if the Outercurve Foundation were named after a Eugenius Harvey Outercurve." Perhaps he meant Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge. Microsoft Florian likes Outerbridge, which must mean that it's bad for GNU/Linux. He too appears to be a front (now proceeding to attacks on the FSFE).

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