Microsoft Adds Some Sugar To Windows

Who doesn’t like sugar? Especially on Valentine’s Day?

Microsoft and open source CRM vendor SugarCRM are collaborating in a
technical partnership that will see a new Windows version of SugarCRM
released under a Microsoft Shared Source license. The move
may well be a herald of things to come, as Microsoft attempts to attract open
source applications to its platform.

SugarCRM and Microsoft are expected to collaborate on improved support for
Microsoft’s Web server Internet Information Services (IIS), in addition to
Active Directory and SQL Server. The new support will manifest itself in a
new Microsoft Windows distribution of SugarCRM 4.5 that is set to debut in May or June. Version 4.0 was
in December 2005.

The Windows optimized version is not likely to fall on “deaf ears,”
either. Some 35 percent of SugarCRM’s users are already deploying the open
source application on a Windows platform. John Roberts, chairman and chief
executive officer of SugarCRM, commented that SQL server is not a database
that is currently supported, but that Sugar has had a lot of requests for it.

“The feedback we’ve gotten is that there is a lot of interest in taking more
advantage of the Windows platform,” Roberts told

SugarCRM is also going to take advantage of Microsoft’s Community Shared
Source License. The Microsoft Community License is part of a new
simplification of Microsoft’s shared source strategy, allowing developers
and users relatively open access to the code.

The regular open source version of SugarCRM will continue to be licensed
under the SugarCRM public license (SPL), which is based on the Mozilla
Public License.

“What we’re doing is introducing a new distribution, one that is licensed
under Microsoft shared source and optimized for the Windows platform,”
Roberts said. “It is a new offering, giving our customers and community a
choice about what Sugar is right for them.”

Robert noted that he’s not “super religious” about particular licenses, and
thinks that the Microsoft community licenses is an “excellent license.”

“It represents the same ideals in which we license Sugar open source today,
which is full source code, the ability to create derived works and royalty-free redistribution,” “Roberts said.

Add-on modules for SugarCRM open source will also work with the Windows
optimized version. Roberts explained that the way the core product
is architected with a module loader, it’s easy for developer to write
modules. Modules will work with either distribution, because it’s all derived
from the same source code tree.

The new technical collaboration between Microsoft and SugarCRM came about
partially due to the efforts of Bill Hilf, Microsoft’s director of technical
platform strategy.

“My role is to really think about open source software across the board at
Microsoft,” Hilf told “Certainly SugarCRM was on the radar
of people I wanted to talk to. So I approached John and his team and just
started a conversation.”

“Quite honestly, when I knocked on the door, I had no idea how it would turn
out,” Hilf continued. “I didn’t come in the door saying, ‘Here’s what we got
to do if you want to party with us.’ It was more, ‘Let’s talk about how our
different businesses work, and see if there are areas that we have
opportunity together.'”

It’s all about the platform, the Microsoft Platform, that is.

Hilf noted that the success of Microsoft is Dependant on people building on its
Platform, and that’s remained consistent since Microsoft’s inception.

“The characteristic that is new is the commercial open source element,” Hilf

Microsoft did a similar collaboration with
Jboss last year, in what was regarded as Microsoft’s first official foray
into working with an open source vendor.

“I really look at these as great application development companies that are
taking advantage of our platform, regardless of how they developed or
licensed their software,” Hilf said.

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