The H Year: 2009's Wins, Fails and Mehs
by Dj Walker-Morgan
Welcome to The H's look back at 2009. We've categorised events by what The H thinks was full of win, who was getting on the failboat and what made us just say "Meh". From the corporate giants and how they handled open source and the community to the battle to be the best browser, and from the best new open source to the worst mis-steps in the community.
The 800lb Gorillas: Microsoft and Google
Win - Microsoft makes first GPL code donation to Linux - Microsoft donated GPL code to Linux in 2009. True, the move was self-serving in that it was drivers to support its Hyper-V virtualisation, but it was still code being released under the GPL by Microsoft. This in turn gave hope that Microsoft were starting to get open source and free software at some level...
Fail - Microsoft violating the GPL - Later in the year, it all went wrong on Microsoft's doorstep. After analysing the code of Microsoft's Windows 7 USB Download tool, a keen-eyed coder noticed that parts of the code had a distinct similarity to a GPL licensed program, ImageMaster, hosted on Microsoft's own Codeplex project hosting site. Microsoft withdrew the tool, said a third party had done it and accepted responsibility, eventually releasing a GPL version of the update tool.
Meh - The Codeplex Foundation - Microsoft haven't really managed to gain traction either competing with or working with open source. The Microsoft-created Codeplex Foundation has not only received a cool reception from the community at large but, to date, not even met their 100 day goals of appointing a new board and finding someone to lead the "commercial/open source" advocacy organisation.
Win - Android's Rise - With Chrome/Chromium, Chrome OS and other web related open source projects coming out of Google, it has been a good year for Google's contributions. But the big win in 2009 for Google and for open source has been the rapid advance of Android as an operating system for smart phones and other mobile devices. 2008's mediocre launch of the Linux-powered phone OS was surpassed in 2009 with a wide range of devices running the OS, new versions of Android and a rapidly growing developer community.
Meh - Android's Secret Heart - Even with the success of Android, there come problems. Google has adopted an oddly closed development model with Android which sees them develop in-house and then release versions of finished code as open source. Many in the developer community around Android feel this doesn't make for a level playing field.
Fail - Google Wave - Google Wave was given a big launch, but the realtime collaboration system wasn't really ready for the spotlight. A slow, confusing and incomplete user interface has already put a lot of people off using Wave, despite the enormous potential of the underlying technology.