Belated Happy Birthday to Port25! Is Microsoft Getting Open Source?

by Todd Ogasawara

It just occured to me that Microsoft's Port 25 site turned 1 year old on March 1. So, here's a belated Happy Birthday to the site :-) The first official Port 25 welcome message was posted a bit later by Bill Hilf on March 28 (Welcome to Port 25). And, Jamie Cannon laid out the 10 point Port 25 Mission statement just a week earlier. So, perhaps I am not that late in my well wishes to the site.

Earlier this week Information Week's David Strom attended the Microsoft Tech Summit and wrote...

Microsoft's Tech Summit: Redmond Still Trying To 'Get' Open Source Software

One of Strom's comments is: There is a growing emphasis on interoperability at Microsoft, and they are clearly spending a lot of resources on projects (such as Windows and other operating systems, new versions of Windows networking protocols, and new programming languages with older ones), but there is still room for improvement. You can never do too much interop testing. Interop is getting more attention, but still isn't infused into the core culture yet.

This whole Open Source and Proprietary Software Interoperability movement is still very new. I still get odd looks in response to the tag on my business card that reads Open Source & Proprietary Software Can Co-Exist. In fact, the first person who did not produce an odd look on his face after seeing my card was Bill Hilf of the Microsoft Open Source Labs when I dropped by his office to introduce myself and ask for more information about what this Open Source Labs was doing at Microsoft nearly two years ago.

There's a lot of business model experimentation going on in both camps. Red Hat probably led the way years ago when they stopped providing ISO files after Red Hat 9. Then, they embraced Fedora Core. And, now, well, I can't figure out what Red Hat is doing with Fedora Core to be honest. SUSE moved in a nearly opposite direction after being acquired by Novell taking SUSE from for-fee only to providing an OpenSUSE edition with freely downloadable ISO files. And, well, of course, that partnership with Microsoft that generates a lot of heated debate. MySQL split their distribution to a free Community Edition and a for-fee Enterprise Edition that adds some interesting proprietary management applications to entice potential license purchasers. Marc Fleury cause a bunch of commotion a few years ago with the Professional Open Source initiative at JBoss (before being acquired by Red Hat) and paying lead programmers of Open Source projects (to be honest, it seemed like a good idea to me). Google, the openess poster child and acknowledged thought leader in the web space releases their client-side applications (Google Earth, Picasa, Google Desktop, etc.) as free but closed source applications. SUN moved both Solaris and Java into the Open Source space. And, there are, of course, many more examples of interesting movements in one direction or the other.

The "truth", I think, lies somewhere between the shrillness of the cries of "Microsoft is evil" or "Open Source is evil" from opposing philosophical camps. But, "the truth", as the X-Files fictional Agent Fox Mulder would say," IS somewhere out there."

This Inside Port 25 blog vehicle has been an interesting 10 week experiment for me. I was thrilled when O'Reilly Media contacted me to ask if I would be interested in really focusing in on Microsoft's Port 25 site and provide reflective commentary as an interested outsider (I spend a lot of time talking about Open Source software for Windows and Mac OS X on my personal blog). This my last official blog item within the scope of this great 10 week reflection experiment. But, I've been talking about this in more general terms for years. So, I'm definitely going to continue this conversation on the various sites and sub-sites (such as WindowsDevCenter and MacDevCenter here in the O'Reilly Media blogging space). Thanks for the 10 week ride. I hope those of you who spent your valuable time reading Inside Port 25 items from either me or Matt Asay felt it was an interesting experiment too! See you out there!

Postscript: Speaking of seeing you out there... The nice folks at my day job are letting me attend the CMP/O'Reilly Web 2.0 Expo later this month. So, if you see an Attendee badge with my name on it, do stop me to say hello and let me know what you thought of this Inside Port 25 experiment.


2008-02-11 13:17:08