Microsoft has been hostile to the open source movement in the past but, amid increased pressure from regulators and competitors, we are increasingly seeing the software giant playing nice with the open source community. In the latest such move, Microsoft has announced it is joining the ranks of Google and Yahoo in becoming a platinum sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation and will donate at least $100,000 a year to support the project.

The announcement was made by Microsoft's director of platform strategy, Sam Ramji, who made it clear that the sponsorship did not mean Microsoft was abandoning IIS as its web server technology. The Redmond giant also noted that it was contributing code to support ADOdb - a database abstraction library for PHP and Python - and has pledged to offer royalty-free specifications for Windows Server and .NET Framework protocols.

With this, Microsoft may be hoping to further ease pressure from regulators who have fined the company more than 1.6 billion Euros over the last five years for failing to make its software more interoperable with rivals.