Should Microsoft Financially Support Open Source Projects?

A series of posts and questions on the CMS blogs are asking whether Microsoft should help finance the costs of open source projects. I have no opinion to give that would add value to this topic. However, I'm happy to give the rundown so far of the posts that speak the loudest regarding Microsoft and open source projects.

The thread of blog posts seems to originate with a post at Dave's Tech Shop. In that post, Dave talks about the need for Microsoft to better support open source projects. Dave's reasoning:

osCommerce 3.0 to deliver new features

For the first time, an alpha version of osCommerce 3.0, an e-commerce application written in PHP, was released to the public for testing. While this third alpha was made available to the general public, the first two alpha releases were made only available to osCommerce's community sponsors.

According to osCommerce, the "alpha releases are made to showcase the new features being worked on and to generalize a version specific for testing to help fix and improve subsequent alpha releases for a final, stable, secure, and production ready 3.0 release".

Headaches from security updates for Firefox and Thunderbird

Sigh...another round of security updates coming from the folks at Mozilla. It looks like version 1.5.0.7 will be at our doorsteps soon.  Now at home, updating Firefox and Thunderbird on the Windows PC is a snap since it is all automatic. However, updating in a secure enterprise environment is a different matter.

In most enterprises, most users don't have administrative privileges and without those rights Firefox and Thunderbird in most cases will not auto install the new version. What would really help is if Mozilla would provide their software in a MSI package. Until MSI packages are provided by Mozilla, it is difficult for me to accept Firefox and Thunderbird as "enterprise software". In a Windows Server 2003 environment, MSI packages are a must for easy deployment, management, and auditing.