Relationships … It’s Complicated!

Isn't Valentine's Day a perfect occasion to think about relationships? Other than my family, the relationship I care most about nowadays is the one between Microsoft and the Open Source communities which, to put it mildly, have been interesting in the past. As I'm learning my way through this new adventure, I have been considering our track record from the early stages and, more importantly, thinking about the future.

Make no mistake. Relationships are hard and high in maintenance – especially when there is some history to them. Entering the state where water is really under the bridge is tough, and the one and only remedy I can think of is to build those bridges one stone at a time, and show that you really care. I firmly believe Microsoft is on the right track here: first as an outsider, then as a partner, and finally as an employee. For the past few years I saw the tide turning, and Microsoft becoming increasingly more open. We are building those bridges, and we are doing it in the one and only way Open Source communities care: by showing commitment, and contributing code.

We understand that we are far from being done, which is why I have started looking outside of Microsoft and reaching out to communities to continue the ongoing conversation, and to show the world how much we have changed and become more open. But showing the whats and the hows is notenough: we want to get to the next step, and delve into the reasons leading us to steer the ship towards open water. As the story unfolds and I start touring the world to meet as many communities as I can and gather the feedback we need so much to move forward and have a productive relationship.

Speaking of travel, I just came back from my European tour, where I visited Italy, Germany, the UK and Belgium. This was my first “toe in the water”, and it was a priceless learning experience, where I managed to reconnect with old friends and meet new people from the Open Source world. In Italy I had a chance to see how HTML5 is going to play a huge part in the future of the Web (you don’t want to lose the upcoming “HTML, ci siamo” event). In Germany I walked away with a miniature model of the “we love developers” double decker Microsoft bus that is making the rounds to show all the efforts Microsoft is doing in enrolling developers. In the UK, I was blown away by the amount of information, tutorials, interviews and other good stuff the fine folks are doing. And in Belgium I had a great meeting with some of the most well respected PHP developers who are constructively having a discussion on how to improve their experience on Azure, and helping to plug on the community creativity with a very contest (if you live in Europe, and grok PHP, you should definitely sign up!).

On top of that, I spent my last day in Europe visiting and attending FOSDEM, the largest Free Software event in Europe. There, I had the pleasant surprise of a day packed with casual encounters in the hallways which turned into extremely practical conversations on how Microsoft and the FLOSS communities can move on and work together on real problems, real projects and real code.

And code does definitely matter, so let me finish by announcing some new released projects, freshly baked and wrapped in a proper Valentine's day chocolate box. Today we announced the availability of four new extensions for Joomla! that allow Joomla! administrators/developers to provide users with the following integrated features: Bing Maps, Windows Live ID, OData and the Silverlight Pivot Viewer. These extensions are developed and contributed by Schakra and MindTree, with funding provided by Microsoft. Here’s a quick overview of the extensions:

Bing Maps extension (
With this extension, Joomla! users can easily include customized Bing Maps into the content they are publishing, and administrator can preconfigure how the map should look, and where it can be added.
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Silverlight Pivot viewer extension (
With this extension Joomla! users can visually navigate with the Silverlight Pivot viewer through large amount of data. Administrators define what is the data source using a set of preconfigured options like OData, RSS, media files, etc, .

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Windows Live ID extensions(
With this extension Joomla! users can associate their Joomla! account to their Windows Live ID, and then to login on Joomla! with Windows Live ID.

OData extension (
With this extension Joomla! administrator can provide users with quick access to any OData source, like the Netflix catalog (check the list of live OData services), and let them include these in any content type (such as articles). The generic extension includes a basic OData query builder and renders data in a simple HTML Table.

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Code speaks, content matters. To close on Joomla!, we’ve also just published a new tutorial explaining how to get Joomla! up and running on Windows Azure using the Windows Azure Companion. And by the way we will be at J-and-Beyond conference May 6th-8th, to showcase more Joomla! and Microsoft technologies interop.

As always I look forward to your comments and feedback.

Gianugo Rabellino, Senior Director of Open Source Communities

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