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Facebook opens to third-party developers

Founder says move is similar to what Microsoft did decades ago

Facebook Inc. is encouraging other companies to sell products and create software for use on the popular social networking site, hoping to expand into an all-purpose destination on the Web.

The company's 23-year-old founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said Thursday the move was similar to what Microsoft Corp. did decades ago, when the relatively obscure software maker began encouraging third-party companies to write programs for its personal computer operating system. The strategy made Microsoft phenomenally profitable and helped turn founder Bill Gates - like Zuckerberg, a Harvard University dropout - into world's richest man.

"Until now, social networks have been closed platforms," Zuckerberg told about 750 programmers attending the company's first developer conference, dubbed f8. "We're going to end that."

The Palo Alto-based startup has so far recruited about 65 companies to create software for the Facebook Platform, which will be opened up to any company starting Thursday night.

The best known third-party contributor so far is e-commerce powerhouse Inc., which is allowing Facebook members to publish book reviews on their profile pages. The feature will debut later this week.

Zuckerberg and his Harvard buddy, Dustin Moskovitz, co-founded Facebook in February 2004. The site was supposed to be the virtual version of paper "face books" that Harvard and other colleges distribute to freshmen.

But within a month, the site had caught on at Stanford, Columbia, and Yale. By December 2004, it had nearly 1 million active users.

Read Complete Article at MSNBC Tech News
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