2 Surprise announcements in as many days. First off, Microsoft contributes code to the Linux kernel. Secondly, they contribute code to Moodle (which I happen to develop at work). All under the GPL. What is this, bizarro world?

Now these raise some interesting discussion points. Microsoft has long harped on about how Linux contains code that violates its patents, without ever suggesting which code this might refer to. The response from the open source community was pretty much “put up or shut up,” but nonetheless enough FUD was generated to prompt Novell into striking a no-sue deal with MS.

However, Microsoft’s now a contributor to the software they previously claimed is in violation of their intellectual property. This could be enough to extinguish the FUD fires they’ve been building. If Microsoft are so anti-Linux, why would they happily be a part of the project? A surprising change of heart, but by no means an unwelcome one.

Secondly, it’ll be interesting to see how much Microsoft embraces the open source development model. Will they just throw the code out and say “Look! GPL! Aren’t we great!” while only distributing code created in-house, or are they going to be encouraging community development? Are they going to submit the Moodle plugin for inclusion in CVS? Are they going to put it in the Modules and Plugins database?

One worrying sign at the moment is that the plugin is only supported on Moodle 1.9, yet it requires PHP 5. Moodle 1.9 doesn’t have PHP 5 as a requirement, and Microsoft’s documentation makes no mention of this.

I’m interested, but I’m not getting too excited, yet.