IMHO: Ray Ozzie Gets Open Source

by Todd Ogasawara

Microsoft's Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie (Bill Gates was their first CSA) delivered one of two keynotes at the Microsoft MVP Summit I attended last week. I was debating whether or not to get in line at one of the microphones during the Q&A session to ask him about Microsoft and Open Source. But, someone else decided much faster and was able to make a good statement and ask a good question. The entire transcript of Ozzie's presentation and Q&A session can be found at...

Ray Ozzie: Microsoft 2008 Most Valuable Professional Global Summit

Here's the section from that transcript regarding Open Source...

QUESTION: I have a question about the software as a service space that's currently existing. If we look out at the Web now with all the providers and vendors, we see Open Source playing a very strong role with a large number of vendors, and it's very different from the Microsoft platform what role Open Source plays as opposed to the other platforms. In fact, Java is Open Source now.

So, my question is, with the Microsoft vision, where do you see Open Source playing a part on the Microsoft platform, and what is your position towards it?

RAY OZZIE: Well, my position toward Open Source generally is that it's a part of the environment. It's very useful for developers to be able to get the source code to certain things, to modify them.

Microsoft fundamentally as a whole has changed dramatically as a result of Open Source in terms of as people have been using it more and more, the nature of interoperability between our systems and other systems has increased. And I can tell you from an inside perspective in terms of dealing with individuals inside, when you build a new product, immediately you start thinking of how shall this product expose its APIs, what type of developer is it serving, should there be SOAP or Web Services APIs, because it will be being used in system integration context within an enterprise, are the people who are going to be integrating with it going to be more of the Web community and should they exposed through REST-based technologies, should the results come back in XML or JSON or some other formats based on the type of consumer of the thing.

Open Source is a reality. We have a software business that is based on proprietary software. We tactically or strategically, depending on how you look at it, will take certain aspects of what we do, and we'll Open Source them where we believe there is a real benefit to the community and to the nature of the growth of that technology in Open Sourcing it. The .NET Framework is a good example of it, and we're working with Novell to make model work so that people don't have to make this choice if they do want to do something with a Linux or UNIX back-end, and so that we can share tools and technologies.

But the bottom line is we believe very much in the quality of Microsoft products. We are an IP-based business. But we live in a world together with Open Source, and we have to make it possible for you to build solutions and for customers to build solutions that incorporate aspects of both.