Microsoft Releasing Open Source? Surely you Jest TurboTas?

It makes a good headline, but of course the truth is even stranger.

Allegiance is a free multiplayer game that the Microsoft Reseach Labs and Game Labs have been working on for a couple of years. We’ll assume that although Allegiance is a complete game, it feeds back into the actual product divisions useful development info about the design and performance of parallel play software (this was a technology that MS had to crack for X-Box connectivity) .The game itself is in the space combat genre (a crowded market) and attracted a cult following. There are many thrird party add-ons, game servers and ‘Clan’ sites around the ‘net and many hundreds of forums where players and hackers discuss the game.

Microsoft have dumped the game. this is fair enough and Microsoft have every right to discontinue development of their own products. Not long after the announcement, the user/developer community went apoplectic.

Although Microsoft could have ignored the cries, they actually did something very interesting. They released the entire source code tree as OpenSource!

Microsoft have a very polite posting at the Development Labs page for Allegience pointing the user at a 560MB download.

For me this perhaps shows another side to Microsoft (or at least to some people at Microsoft). For a start you can bet that MS do not have a space combat game up their sleeves as a commercial product!

Secondly, the idea of releasing the SourceCode for dead software poses interesting questions: would MS ever consider this for Office or other leading apps?

Of course, I feel this is just musing: MS would never do such a thing with core products: continued support for old versions of office would damage MS considerably (Particularly if the Wider Community did a better job!)

I bet that there are people at MS that are keeping a very close eye on what happens to Allegiance now it’s in the public domain.

Toby Seaman 2004

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