The approach of Microsoft in the context of interoperability is one of proactivity and pragmatism. The reality of the IT ecosystem is that heterogeneity is reality and that we as a company (and an industry) must continually adapt to properly address the needs of customers operating in these environments. True interoperability can only be achieved through this pragmatic approach. There is no silver bullet and we must work closely with our customers and partners to understand what their real needs are in order to build solutions, and partner with the industry to effectively solve them.
Standardization is often a great tool in building a common bridge which everyone can cross. There are a few different types of standards including those submitted to formal standards bodies, as well as "de facto" or industry standards. Both serve an important role in providing interoperability, but should not be viewed as the one-size-fits-all solution.
By working directly with the community, we are able to foster interoperability in a very direct way, that meets the needs of the market and our customers where they are today. Often through the interaction and collaboration with partners (like those in the Interop Vendor Alliance) we are able to build bridges between innovative technologies quickly responding to real needs and providing shared customer benefit.
IT evolves at such a rapid pace and we must be agile in order to innovate at the pace required by the market and our customers. Over the past several months, one thing has become very clear to me (perhaps I am a little slow in the uptake here): IT Professionals really don't care about marketing, politics and idealistic debate – they just want stuff to WORK and drive strategic business value. They also don't want to have to make it work themselves – it is the responsibility of the vendors to work together to enable interoperability so they don't have to. I had the opportunity to speak with several IT Professionals at TechX World in San Francisco on Tuesday and this message was repeated loud and clear through and after our panel discussion.
I am looking forward to continuing to meet and engage with more and more customers and partners in the near future to really learn about your pain. We are fully committed to listening and understanding your issues. By then taking this input and engineering interoperability into our products by design, engaging deeply with the community, making Microsoft intellectual property available, and by embracing and participating in standards setting activities, we will to continue to foster pragmatic interoperability between Microsoft and non-Microsoft products and technologies.