Microsoft Open Source Strategy: a chat with Hank Janssen

I have been following Microsoft open source strategy from 3 years or so now, and they are not an exception: adaptation is a gradual process at Microsoft too.

Hank Janssen, Director of Program Management at the Microsoft Open Source Technology Center,  over these days is traveling around Europe, and yesterday we had an interesting conversation about how open source things are going at Microsoft these days.

One year ago you were going to a Moodle conference, here in Rome. What’s happened next?

There have been many projects we have been working on since we met last year. Here is just a small set of what we have done since we met.

The IIS team released the platform installer, which simplifies the installation of web infrastructure on a Windows server. Installing everything from installing and configuring everything that is needed for IIS, SQL Server express and even PHP. It also has a ever increasing gallery of open source web applications like dotnetnuke, Drupal and wordpress among many others.

We released many value adds to PHP, such as Windows Azure connectivity from any PHP application and even the ability to run PHP completely in Windows Azure.

Specifically, Microsoft released several plugins in August this year that integrate several of the Live services into
Moodle
. They have been released in GPL V2.

I would say that Microsoft contributing to the Linux kernel showed new capacities to be flexible, a promising adaptive trait.

Any other things you want to add, also in this respect?

But there are two things that I wanted to really highlight.

In June of 2009 the community released PHP 5.3, our combined work with the community made PHP 5.3 the best PHP ever for Windows. A lot of work went in to that release by many people from both the community and Microsoft.

In July of 2009 we ended up doing something that nobody ever thought we would. Namely contribute to the Linux Kernel. We contributed the drivers that enable Linux to be in the best way possible to be virtualized on top of Hyper-V. And we are committed to enhancing those drivers, we have many plans to add many more features.

And finally, one the engineers in my group got commit priviliges directly into the PHP Core engine. This means Microsoft in the first time in history now has engineers contributing directly to community open source projects.

Microsoft started by partnering with vendors, but more recently it is working also with some open source community projects.
What did you learn so far?

We learned an awful lot.
We got a lot of feedback from many areas of open source community. Very little of it bad, most of it very good and quite a few people that were shocked by the things we have done so far.

The Open Source world is a large world with many projects and people. And every project has often different rules for participating and contributing. I think a major learning also is that when Microsoft and OS communities engage, we really have much more in common than not.

Thank you Hank, keep up with your good work, and happy hacking!

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