CodePlex Foundation distances itself from Microsoft

Seeking to shed its Microsoft roots, open source initiative CodePlex Foundation officially changed its name to Outercurve Foundation

Seeking to distance itself even further from Microsoft, the CodePlex Foundation has officially changed its name to the Outercurve Foundation, the company announced Tuesday.

Paula Hunter, who is the executive director of the foundation, said the name change should reduce confusion between the organization and Microsoft's site for hosting its own open-source software projects, called Codeplex.com.

[ Earlier this year CodePlex Foundation accepted its first non-Microsoft project. | Track the latest trends in open source with InfoWorld's Open Sources blog and Technology: Open Source newsletter. ]

"We've created more confusion with the CodePlex brand than it has been worth for us," she said. "Many people have associated the [CodePlex.com]'s activities with us and vice-versa."

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.

"Our focus is bringing together open-source developers, commercial software developers and corporate IT together to collaborate on open-source projects," Hunter said. "We provide the IT management and oversight, and the developers focus on the code associate on the project."

Still, the organization's roots, as well as Microsoft's interest in open source, have remained a point of contention. The organization formerly known as CodePlex has been criticized for having a board too heavily populated with Microsoft personnel. In May, the organization hired Stephen Walli as technical director, and he had worked for Microsoft as well.

Thus far, CodePlex manages seven open-source projects, including package management software, and a set of parsers for network management tools. The company expects to announce some other projects in the near future, Hunter said.

To generate a new name, the organization consulted with a branding company, the Boston-based Protobrand. Hunter admitted that finding a new name was a difficult undertaking.

"Naming these days is very tricky," she said. Not only did the organization need a name that was not already trademarked or copyrighted, but also had an open Web address, or URL (Uniform Resource Locator). "Outercurve resonated with us, and also had a very clean URL and trademark search."

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com.

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