The WiX toolset was Microsoft's first Open Source project released back in April, 2004. Being first meant we were guinea pigs for a number of new legal and business processes. By 2009 Microsoft had learned a lot about these processes and created the Outercurve Foundation to encapsulate them. Today the WiX toolset finally moves from Microsoft to join Outercurve. Why now? What changes? Let's see if I can answer those questions.
Since the creation of the Outercurve Foundation, people occasionally asked why the WiX toolset didn't move. There wasn't a really great answer beyond, "We didn't really need to." The original processes in Microsoft were supporting our needs well enough. Well enough until the end of last year when the legal team supporting us said, "It's been fun guys but we don't really want to manage the WiX toolset assignment agreements any longer."
That meant it was time to move to Outercurve. Of course, it is never that simple when you have legal processes involved. So the process took time. I'm just happy we got this done before WiX v3.6 was complete and WiX v3.7 available.
Right now, the WiX toolset's copyright changes. The header on top of all the licensed source files and the logo message displayed by the command-line tools will now say "Copyright Outercurve Foundation" instead of "Copyright Microsoft Corporation". There is also a new email address to request an assignment requests agreement (send email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get started).
That's about it.
Looking forward. WiX v3.6 will still ship next month, the first WiX v3.7 builds will be available before that and WiX v4.0 will be started before the end of the year. Outercurve provides the legal backstop for us to continue fighting the good fight for software installation on Windows.
I was going to close with that last paragraph ("fighting the good fight" is a great closer, right?) but there are two other things I have been thinking about. One of them looks back and the other looks forward.
1. They say it's a small world but I think it's just funny how things work out sometimes. Back in 2003, I was looking for a way to release my side project as Open Source from Microsoft. Back in 2003 that was a pretty crazy (some might say heretical) idea at Microsoft. Fortunately, the legal team put me in contact with a business manager who was looking to do just that. His name was Stephen Walli. All went well and as you read at the top of this blog entry, the WiX toolset was released in 2004.
Fast forward to 2011 when it's time to move the WiX toolset to Outercurve. Who is the technical director that works with projects? Yep, Stephen Walli. For once I did not have to explain what the WiX toolset was and how we came to be a non-Outercurve Open Source project at Microsoft. <smile/>
2. As I updated the headers on the source files to say "Outercurve Foundation" instead of "Microsoft Corporation", I considered what else might change. There are many things I do cautiously because we were the first Open Source project from Microsoft and were supported by a set of internal processes. I felt like WiX was a little special and special is never good in the legal realm. With this move, the WiX toolset is just like any other project from Microsoft that gets assigned to Outercurve.
We're not special any more. That makes me excited.
You can also find my official announcement on the Outercurve blog.