Most of the time I try to respond to the comments that come into my blog. There has been a rush of comments since the linking of my posting to a few news articles.
1) Thank you for the comments – I know many of you are skeptical about this process, and a few are even outright hostile. I will be going through all of the postings in detail and pulling out the themes and ideas throughout the feedback.
2) I will continue to have an ongoing dialogue with a few key community members and these comments will inform those discussions. I will make sure your voices are heard as we go through our decision making.
One thing that jumped out at me about many of these postings is the sense that a lack of trust in our motivations is a key factor for you all. I am unclear as to why then it is a problem for us to clarify something so that motivations are not an issue. Unless I have been really not paying attention, we have been incredibly direct in how we have talked about OSS issues ever since May 2001. At the time we were clear with our concerns as well as our aspirations, and we were clear about our approach to source code licensing. Ever since that point we have done nothing except consistently deliver on those plans and become increasingly more open and willing to receive community feedback. I don’t expect a cookie from anyone for doing the right thing – but it would seem to counter balance some of the concerns raised in the comments to my previous postings.
Starting in 2001 – we launched Shared Source with 6 separate offerings (some reference only, some full modification/redist terms). Since then we have grown to having >600 source releases servicing well over 2 million developers. CodePlex has taken that to even greater heights. In Dec. 2003, we stated unequivocally that our IP portfolio was open for licensing to anyone, and that academics (for example) had royalty free access to them. We also put in place an unprecedented IP indemnification policy for our customers and partners. We have had a steady increase in our amount of community interaction and transparency through the >6K bloggers at Microsoft, sites like Channel 9 and Port 25. There are technical collaborations in place with hundreds of commercial companies including OSS providers like JBOSS, SugarCRM, XenSource, Zend, and now Novell. We have stepped up in the standards and specification arena with the availability of our Open Specification Promise and its application to 38 web services specifications, virtualization technology, and SenderID. There were significant concerns about ODF/Open XML compatibility and we launched an open source project called the Open XML Translator that has received broad recognition and acclaim as a quality community program. And just this week we announced the creation of a new Alliance meant to facilitate better communication and testing to draw a community of vendors together to work on interoperability issues. Additionally, we have been spinning off advanced technologies from our research labs into new startups and small enterprises to create opportunities for others through innovation (known as IP Ventures). All of these offerings are global in nature and receive sustained commitment from us.
But, for all of that – we are still going to be building and selling our products. We will be competitive in the marketplace. We will continue to build our technologies to be high value solutions for our customers. We will also value the IP generated in that process. The real question becomes, how do you balance that IP strategy so that it is good for the community, overall industry growth, etc. while also providing a reasonable return on investment. I am at TechEd ITForum this week, and to walk the show floor it is pretty obvious that all vendors are in this exact same boat, no matter what kind of software they produce.
Again, please keep the input coming. I will be working on the covenant issue until we arrive at some sort of resolution.