by Peter Galli on September 10, 2009 11:30am

Many of you will, by now, have heard about the formation of the CodePlex Foundation. In order to give you an in-depth look into the thinking behind Microsoft sponsoring the Foundation, I talked to Bill Staples, the General Manager for the Web Platform and Tools Team at Microsoft, a member of the interim CodePlex Foundation board and whose engineering team builds the Microsoft Web platforms.

"Before we dig into the details of the CodePlex Foundation, it is important to note that the Foundation is completely independent from Microsoft. The Foundation's mission to help the exchange of code and understanding between software companies and open source communities is really interesting to Microsoft. To help the Foundation fund its first year of operations, Microsoft is donating U.S. $1 million," Staples told me.

One thing that Staples was very clear about during our conversation was that the CodePlex Foundation will be complementary to the software ecosystem and is not designed to compete with any of the existing open source foundations. He hopes that the CodePlex Foundation will bring commercial and open source software development communities even closer.

"We need the community's involvement to make the CodePlex Foundation a success. We don't have all of the answers today. With today's soft launch, we hope to get critical input that will ensure the Foundation is a respected, neutral party that can enhance collaboration between participating companies, industry partners and open source communities.  Over the coming weeks and months, we will be reaching out to many folks to get their feedback and to ask them to get involved with the Foundation," he said.

As such, an interim board has been established, with participation by both community and Microsoft individuals, and the plan is to work together with the open source community and other software companies over the next 100 days to really shape and define the foundation, he said. The intention going forward is to find the best candidates for the full-time board, with the expectation that the Foundation will be run by a combination of representatives from software companies and open source communities.

The interim board will also be creating a project governing process by which projects can be nominated and approved as part of the Foundation. 

Microsoft's support of the Foundation is really the next logical step in our work with and engagement of open source software communities, and does not signal a shift in Microsoft's open source strategy, Staples said.

Over the past few years we have become increasingly supportive of open source, including sponsoring the Apache Software Foundation, contributing to the PHP Community, participating in Apache projects - including the Hadoop project and the Qpid project - and participation in various community events such as OSBC, OSCON, EclipseCon, PyCon, and the Moodle Conference.

"Our hope is that new opportunities will emerge for Windows and .NET developers to more actively participate in open source development through the CodePlex Foundation," Staples said.

You can read more about the new CodePlex Foundation at http://www.codeplex.org/.