Executive Briefing : What’s Microsoft doing about Open Source
Steve Ballmer recently opined that the more open source commercializes, the less worried he is about it. That’s open source as a competitor to Microsoft, but what is Microsoft doing to embrace open source internally? This session will take a look at how open source is increasingly pervading Microsoft: the Linux lab, the Sourceforge projects, the Shared Source licenses, etc. A birds-eye view into how the industry’s biggest software company is embracing open source.
DC: Why does MS show up to so many shows with the cheque book?
BH: Because they want to compete and find opportunity, that’s why they do things like Port 25 – (open source software lab at Microsoft)
DC: You seem a different sort of person than what we have been used to here in Open Source?
BH: Previous Microsoft people were blunt instruments used to react to Open Source as Microsoft weren’t sure what they wanted to do, they are smarter now in understanding what they are doing about it, how they interact with developers, they are more co-ordinated internally now also.
DC: so Microsoft has how many employees (about 60K says Bill) so how many work on Open Source?
BH: My team is about 20-30 people in Redmond and about 100 around the world so they don’t get lost in the Ivory Towers of Redmond (that’s only a very small % Danese points out)
Bill spends a majority of his time with product management teams getting them to understand how to work with OS
The previous Microsoft person in this position was branded as Mr Anti Linux but in truth he was responsible for starting to improve the MS strategy towards OS
DC: He was responsible for starting all the dis-information capmaigns right?
BH: We never had dis-information campaigns, it was never targeted at the OS audience “but at AN audience shouts the crowd” this part isn’t going down well here…..and several people are chipping in, it’s the usual MS is evil stuff, Danese brings up that Ballmer is quoted as saying “No-one locks you in like MS (as in Office)” which Bill hadn’t heard, I think she senses that she (and the crowd) are pushing too hard and states that she appreciates his job is hard
DC: Why isn’t MS writing their own plugin for ODF
BH: if MS did it and it messed up there would be too much heat around how it went wrong, so they funded a sourceforge project to do it themselves”
This is like a political interview, carefully worded phrases “so you’re doing this” “well I wouldn’t put it like that exactly” etc etc
It’s pointed out that the save to ODF from Word produces terrible results, but so was HTML in Word 2003 , they have made a right step by providing the users the tools to sort it out themselves.
DC: Whats the hardest thing you deal with in your job?
BH: Dealing with closed mindedness both internally and externally, in Brazil they hate Gates for capitalism etc, not for the technology
DC: Now that Scoble have left is anyone going to replace him?, he was cuddly!
BH: Now MS has 3000 engineers that blog everyday, he broke down the walls so he wont be replaced, its set a trend
DC: Do you have rules about who can do what when it comes to blogging?
BH: No big vetting process for blogging rules, try to keep it Organic, circulate internally to make sure it’s interesting, we meander through some legal issue stuff around corporate blogging and protecting company image.
DC: Did the EU do a better job of teaching MS how to be better than the DOJ in USA?
I didn’t catch is answer on this one as very short but I think it was along the lines of “no comment” !!
What is MS doing now for OS?
- They are looking at the huge base of software they have and deciding what they can do with it, some can work and some won’t
- They try to help developers by releasing things under sharedsource and helping bug fix
- How do things work in a community? Many things don’t make sense
MS wrote a lot of licenses and people want to talk about them, when is MS ready to talk?
- About a year ago they re-wrote the sharedsource license to make it simpler and easier to understand, less legalise
- It might be a great thing for them to participate in the OSI, but there are a lot of things to talk about first, eager and open to it but conversations are required first
Can we trust MS, history of embrace and extinguish, lock-in
- Big mountain to climb, consistent action over time, less talk and more action over time, but it will take time, simple
- Ray Ozzie and Ballmer support what Bill is doing re OS
In a web based world, how does MS enable people to make money by developing apps on MS platform, i.e. on Live.com
- Branding of many offerings are the same (Google, Y! etc)
- IE7 will be one of the most standards supporting browser you are going to see