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Windows May Go Open Source: What It Really Means For Developers And Consumers

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Microsoft – set to release Windows 10 later this year – is firmly established as the king of software. In spite of this, the company is open to change: Windows could soon become open source.

The move means that Microsoft would essentially be giving away Windows for free. However – and perhaps more importantly – the tech community would have access to all the code for Windows, being able to change it, modify it and essentially create unique versions of it.

Windows would not be the first open source operating system in the world. Perhaps the most famous is Google's Android, which, as a mobile operating system, is a little different. As far as desktop operating systems go, Linux is also open source — but it's only used by a tiny fraction of the user base boasted by Windows.

The change could be huge for the developer community. While it would likely be of little consequence to the average consumer – who would still use Microsoft-developed Windows –developers could modify the operating system to suit specific needs and implement their own designs.

Not only would the change impact features, it could help Microsoft find security issues as well. This, however, is somewhat of a double-edged sword. It would certainly enable those wanting to improve Windows security to more easily find issues, but it would also help hackers identify vulnerabilities to exploit.

Consumers could benefit from Windows being open source as it would bring more choice. Just as developers would be able to modify the operating system, consumers would be able to use the modified versions of the operating system.

Despite these advantages, it's difficult to imagine that Windows will become totally open source anytime soon. What seems more likely is that Microsoft will release portions of the operating system, enabling faster development of its features, and also offering a faster responsiveness to developer feedback and suggestions.

The move would signal a huge change for Microsoft, which has traditionally been somewhat anti-open-source. Microsoft, however, has changed a lot since Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer were in charge.

Satya Nadella, the company's current CEO, is looking forward, repositioning Microsoft to become a fun and exciting company once again. Just last year, Microsoft made its .Net framework open source, allowing developers to not only build apps for Windows, but for Azure and other platforms as well.

Only time will tell if Windows does indeed become an open-source operating system — but the future of the operating system is certainly exhilarating.

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