Mozilla cautiously accepts Microsoft handshake

Microsoft and Mozilla will work together to make Mozilla's open source browser and email tools work well with Windows Vista, if a series of public communiques are to be believed.

In the past week, Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab (not to be confused with the independent Open Source Development Lab) made direct approaches to the Mozilla Foundation and to its community of open source developers, offering one-on-one help in porting Mozilla software to Vista. Those overtures appear to have been welcomed by Mozilla, although some developers continue to voice scepticism.

The Mozilla Foundation leads development of the popular Firefox browser and Thunderbird email client, both of which are open source. If the two do end up working together, the development represents a significant shift in Microsoft's relationship with open source software, which in the past has ranged from cold to openly hostile.

On Saturday 19 August, Sam Ramji, director of the Microsoft lab, sent an open letter to a Mozilla development newsgroup offering direct support.

Specifically, Ramji invited Mozilla developers to a workshop called the Windows Vista Readiness ISV Lab, a four-day event held every week through December. The lab lets developers work directly with Microsoft developers and support staff.

"In the past the company has only invited commercial software developers to these labs," Ramji wrote. "I'm committed to evolving our thinking beyond commercial companies to include open source projects, so I went to the nontrivial effort of getting slots for noncommercial open source projects."

Mozilla was quick to welcome the offer. "Yes, we'd definitely be interested in getting some one-to-one support," wrote Mike Beltzner, a "phenomenologist" with Mozilla. "The facility and program that you describe should really help to ensure that we get the proper integration issues looked at for Firefox 2 and Thunderbird 2."

He noted Mozilla has already been testing on Vista and that the team has been working with Microsoft on taking advantage of the "Default Program" infrastructure that will debut with Vista, but said there are a number of other important areas yet to be worked on. "Default Program" is a centralized control panel allowing users to designate which programs handle particular tasks by default, rather than allowing the programs to battle it out.

Beltzner said Mozilla developers would be particularly interested in the effects of Vista's application security mode, integration with InfoCard, integration with RSS features and integration with the built-in Vista calendar and address book.

He suggested Microsoft make additional Vista documentation, sample code and testing tools available for open source projects that can't afford to send developers to Redmond. "Something like a checklist of the most common OS integration points that have changed from Windows XP would be extremely useful," Beltzner said.

Some developers suggested Mozilla was not being sceptical enough of Microsoft's generosity. "Guys, I understand that the thought of receiving assistance in integrating with Vista is tempting, but this is the last company one should trust," wrote newsgroup contributor Adam Weston.

Microsoft's open source lab, created last year, is designed to help open source projects work better within Microsoft-centric environments. In March of this year the lab began publishing a collection of blogs on a site called Port 25, in an effort to better communicate with the outside world.

A few weeks after the site's launch, Bill Hilf, Microsoft's general manager of platform strategy, found it necessary to defuse several "interesting conspiracy theories," among them that the site was an "attempt to subterfuge the OSS community," that it was a "marketing or PR stunt," and that those working in the lab were "soulless sell-outs or villainous rascals."

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matthew Broersma
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?