How to move the herd–one open source project at a time


Folks have been asking me, how can we believe that Microsoft is changing to see open source in a positive light.

Microsoft has been hiring a lot of people over the last several years--Since YE2002 we've went from ~50,000 employees to ~78,000 employees. That means the over 1/3 of the company has been with the company less than 5 years. Not only does that bring in new perspectives, but it also helps shape the company by changing the way people think. A lot of people who have been with Microsoft over 5 years have a different perspective, and have a lot of learning to do. The new blood however, has grown up with the world of Open Source, and has a different perspective. I'm interested in helping them the whole company see that, and cascade these changes through the enterprise. I'm sure that by focusing on the positives that we can do better.

All I ever ask, is two things:


  1. Judge the company by its actions, and not by its words (Hmm. this sounded better when I was thinking it--these are words too... I guess you watch for actions--I'll try to point them out). My pappy always used to say "Don't judge people by their relatives." -- good advice at the best of times.

  2. Help change Microsoft, by showing the company how it can work better by accepting Open Source, not as a threat, but an opportunity to engage customers of all kinds.

Over the last year, Microsoft product groups have started over 150 open-source projects, all hosted on CodePlex. My pappy also used to say "Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction."  Well, pardner, lawyers are just as tricky to deal with. You can only imagine the wrangling that has gone on with the legal department to get projects started--it's still a tricky process, but it's evolving. We must aim to encourage more of that, and see more participation in the real world.

We have two extensions for Firefox that we've been involved with. (I'm still shocked at that!) The first, is a Windows Media Player plug-in.  The second is the CardSpace Identity Selector extension that Kevin Miller and I wrote--and I aim to get some code added to the main Firefox build this year to help support Information Cards on all platforms that Firefox supports. Pat Felsted and the stalwart band of Identity gurus at the Bandit Project have been working hard towards this.

I'm resisting the temptation to do a whole-lot of one-offs, as I'm trying to find ways to scale the benefits I can provide to the community. I have a limited budget, but I have contacts and friends with deeper pockets. When my goals and theirs align, we can milk that for a lot.

Comments (2)
  1. Nektar says:

    There are many open source projects out there. Unfortunately for you many of them run and are bulit for Unix-based systems and mostly Linux. Changing this trend or starting a new open source community only and specifically for Windows would be very hard. Currently, I can find almost anything, alomost any kind for open source application for Linux. From free games, to dictionaries, to music producing games, to web frameworks (even richer than ASP.NET), although not as well integrated. You have a very useful subsystem called SUA (Subsystem for Unix-based Applications) and yet you hide it. You offer it only in Vista Enterprise and you offer no download for it. In addition, you do not implement all Linux apis in SUA and no X-server is provided. Even Cygwin is better and more widely used than SUA, thakns to your shipping limitations placed on the subsystem. And all these whilst SUA might have been a good solution helping open source application easily move to Windows.

    So please, if you want to really help the open source community and not have to create a whole new community from scratch then improve SUA by implementing all LInux apis and make it a free redistributable download, like DirectX, or even integrate with all versions of Windows. Why not?

  2. Firefox says:

    Firefox is written "Firefox" not "FireFox". Only first letter is capital as shown at Mozilla’s front page:

    http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/

    Just letting you know.

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