Why did Microsoft join the Linux Foundation's AllSeen Alliance?

In today's open source roundup: Microsoft becomes a member of the AllSeen Alliance. Plus: Chumby returns from the dead, and how to run Quake and Quake 2 in Linux

When people think of open source they don't usually associate Microsoft with it. But the company recently surprised many when it joined the Linux Foundation's open source AllSeen Alliance. The AllSeen Alliance's mission is to create a standard for device communications.

Has Microsoft changed its attitude toward open source in general or is there another reason for its uncharacteristic behavior? Computerworld speculates on what might have motivated Microsoft to join the AllSeen Alliance.

According to Computerworld:

Microsoft has joined what began as a Linux Foundation effort to create an open platform for the Internet of Things. It's a move that may be a telling sign regarding Microsoft's plans for home automation, and even for the Xbox.

Microsoft is interested in home automation and recently announced an agreement to work with an insurance company on home automation technology. Its Xbox gaming platform is seen as a potential hub or control center for home devices.

More at Computerworld
Microsoft Joins AllSeen Alliance

The idealist in me wants to believe that Microsoft has changed its tune when it comes to open source, but the cynic in me promptly smacks the idealist upside the head and asks: What's in it for Microsoft? Once you ask that question then I think the real motivation falls into place, and that can be summed up in one word: Apple.

Apple recently announced its HomeKit effort at WWDC and it seems to have totally freaked Microsoft out. Microsoft quickly realized that Apple had stolen yet another march on them, and thus decided to frantically grasp at anything that would help them develop a viable home automation strategy. So joining the AllSeen Alliance strikes me as yet another desperate "me-too" attempt by Microsoft to keep up with Apple.

Am I being too cynical here? I doubt it. Microsoft, like most companies, does what it is in its own interests, and I think joining the AllSeen Alliance is truly a marriage of convenience. So you'll have to excuse me if I don't interpret this move by Microsoft as marking some new attitude toward open source. It seems to be something that is clearly rooted in Microsoft's self-interest rather than any shared open source vision.

Of course it's quite possible that Microsoft's participation in AllSeen could be a good thing over the long haul. But let's not kid ourselves about why Microsoft is doing it. Any good that results will be merely a byproduct of Microsoft doing what it has always done best: Looking out for its bottom line while trying to beat its competitors.

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