A new CodePlex Foundation project will attempt to straighten out the differences in package management between Windows and other operating systems for open-source development.

The project, called CoApp, was accepted into the foundation’s Systems Infrastructure and Integration Gallery yesterday. Microsoft and members of the open-source community are spearheading CoApp, said executive director Paula Hunter.

The CodePlex Foundation is a non-profit that manages intellectual property on behalf of its sponsors’ projects. Project managers maintain oversight over development.

CoApp, which stands for Common Opensource Application Publishing Platform, is designed to make it easier for open-source developers to compile applications that take advantage of the features of Windows, Hunter said.

The project was the brainchild of Microsoft’s Garrett Serack, the company’s open-source community lead. Serack will be dedicated to CoApp on a full-time basis, according to his blog.

“While Windows provides some pretty good stuff for packaging applications in the form of Windows Installer technology (a.k.a. ‘MSI’), the downside is that the open-source community hasn’t really picked it up in the same way that they have picked up packaging on other platforms, where they create repositories and distributions of software, and so we’re missing out on having these nice, consistent collections of all these great open-source apps. That’s where I really want to be,” Serack explained.

Apache, PHP and Python distributions will be the first software to be packaged under CoApp, Serack wrote.

Two developers outside of Microsoft, Trevor Dennis and Trent Nelson, have signed contribution agreements with the foundation, and two more agreements are pending, Hunter said.