And Now, For My Next Act….

Years ago, it was suggested that there was a civil war in Microsoft based on open source. There allegedly was the Star Wars–inspired rebel alliance of openness fighting against the forces of closed. Coming out of that set of accusations, I was always a bit curious as to what role I was assigned. Should I have strapped some cinnamon rolls to my head and found a large gelatinous blob to chain myself to? Or run around with a black cape and really nasty emphysema?  

Or – as it turns out, deal with the fact that Microsoft is a complex organization with the ability and desire to think through hard issues and learn lessons over time?

Back in the early 1990s MS began sharing source code with development partners and OEM customers, but we lacked a strategy for broadly sharing code. Shared Source was born of the fact that we needed to pull those elements together and respond to our customers and partners, along with a number of other voices, who were pushing us to clarify what we thought about open source software.

At this point, we are getting close to a hundred source code releases and have succeeded in delivering source code to more than two million developers worldwide. Beyond that, Shared Source will expand at an increasing rate. Product teams are broadly evaluating how we can engage development communities more effectively through source licensing. With the release of the Microsoft source code licenses in October, we made it easier for our product teams to share more code. Also, the simplicity and predictability of the licenses for the development community will make it yet more attractive for our teams to engage.

I’m pleased with the work done over the past 5 years by a community of hundreds within Microsoft. I’ve been just one piece of that larger puzzle, and now it is time for me to take on a new set of challenges. As of this week I’m taking on a new role as a Director in the Corporate Standards Strategy Team. I’ll be looking at the issues surrounding standards from strategy, policy, and communications points of view. 

If you believe IBM when the say open source is open standards is open source is open standards is open source is…then I guess I’ll be doing much of the same work I have been. Or, if you look at it more closely…but that will be coming in future blogs.

Bill Hilf will be the Shared Source guy for Microsoft going forward. He was the MS architect behind the Microsoft/JBoss relationship. Bill runs the OSS lab at Microsoft and was one of the leads for IBM’s Linux strategy before coming to Microsoft. My colleagues (Charlie, Chris, Jon, Deena, and Dawn) who have been critical to the long-term success of Shared Source will continue their great work as well. In short, the company has expanded Shared Source year over year for 5 years. I look at all of that as phase 1. Phase 2 will be all about reaching across communities and technology types in new and compelling ways.  

I’ll still be opining about OSS, particularly as it is so closely related to what I am going to be doing in the standards space. I’m looking forward to stepping back into a vertical learning curve and getting my brain around a new set of complex issues.

Oh yeah. By the way, Luke, I really am your father <inhale> <exhale> <gasp>.

Comments (7)
  1. Jackson says:

    Jason – Congrats on the new gig! Best of luck. Hope you don’t have to spend less time in Portland… 😉

  2. Jason – The new job sounds like great fun. Enjoy the new challenges! I do hope we manage to cross paths, although between both of our new jobs I’m not sure where. Perhaps sometime when I’m up in Seattle meeting with Amazon folk… –ClaireG

  3. James says:

    Would love to know when MS will open source the .NET CLR. Simply making the spec available without a test kit isn’t too valuable. While I am at it, would love to see MS turn it over to the folks at Azul Systems.

    Noticed your groovy list, it really should list a couple of customers…

  4. Simon Phipps says:

    Congratulations Jason (I assume!) Hope you find the Machiavellian world of corporate standards satisfying – my experience is that it’s a huge amount to travel, but I guess that’s no change from now 🙂

  5. Wesley Parish says:

    "Back in the early 1990s MS began sharing source code with development partners and OEM customers, but we lacked a strategy for broadly sharing code."

    Interesting you should mention that detail about Microsoft deciding to share a bit more during the early nineties.

    I’d heard about the Microsoft Academic Licenses before I went to University midway through the nineties and wondered if I should suggest to the University getting an (expensive) NT 4.0 source code license.

    But then I’d already found and bought myself copies of the 4.4BSD Lite CDROM, a copy of the BSDisc (FreeBSD and NetBSD), and several copies of various versions of Linux distros with the Linux source code, so I figured out that if anyone did make such a suggestion to that University, it wouldn’t be me, because I had most of the tools and the code I wanted. That University was already having financial problems, so as it happens I’m glad I didn’t … 🙂

    It sounds like you’re diving into a piranha pool with the standards thingee – enjoy the experience! 😉

  6. jasonmatusow says:

    Always good to hear from you Wesley. Thanks for the well wishes with the new role.

    The university program was one of a few ways we were licensing code. There were benefits to how things were set up back then, but clearly things have progressed a bit since then.

    Of course, we never really think about the tens of millions of lines of sample code, components etc. that were shared via MSDN over the years. The results of that code sharing have been overwhelming if you think of the vibrancy of the development community that has grown around the MS platform and development languages.

    Sorry to hear you weren’t doing MS-based dev back then. I can always hold out hope for you though. 🙂

    As always, keep me honest. Good to hear from you.


  7. Wesley Parish says:

    As it happens, I can quote you the license Microsoft used for a version of MS Windows 3.0 Notepad, released under the name Multipad and found on a 1995 CICA cdrom. It’s a sample code release, and for all intents and purposes a MIT/X license. You might like to read it:


    * PROGRAM : MultiPad.c *

    * *

    * PURPOSE : To give a multi-Notepad demonstration of the new MDI *

    * API in Windows 3.0




    // (C) Copyright Microsoft Corp. 1992. All rights reserved.


    // You have a royalty-free right to use, modify, reproduce and

    // distribute the Sample Files (and/or any modified version) in

    // any way you find useful, provided that you agree that

    // Microsoft has no warranty obligations or liability for any

    // Sample Application Files which are modified.


    It’s an interesting little app, runs under Win9x – I’ve tried it under both Win98 and WINE, and has very little current value beyond being a historic example of how the Win16 API worked.

    And Windows development – I suppose I mustn’t be averse to developing for it, since I’ve got Petzold’s Fifth Edition sitting on my shelf and a app or three floating around in my head demanding to be let out. Onto the MS Win32 API. Ditto QT and some others … 😉

    When I get it seriously under way, I’ll let you know.

    Oh, and have fun with the standards experience!

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