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>.