July 26, 2008

Microsoft at OSCON

The last session I attended before leaving for the airport was the Friday morning plenary session. Sam Ranji of Microsoft announced several new initiatives (documented in his Port 25 blog), including sponsorship of the Apache Software Foundation. This doesn't mean Microsoft are abandoning IIS development.

After the keynotes were over there was a Q&A session, but it seemed like the AV technicians (who seemed to do a pretty awesome job overall) hadn't set up monitor speakers, and so those on stage found it difficult to hear the questions. Which were mostly for Sam, and sometimes a little hostile!

I tried to ask him how it would be possible to change the corporate ethos so that stupidities like the recent OOXML debacle aren't repeated, but I'm not sure the desire to help survived the mangling by the sound system. Microsoft have been a sponsor member of the Python Software Foundation for some time now, and they are as welcome as all our other members.

It was clear, listening to Sam speak with delegates after his talk, that he "gets" open source. It's frustrating to read people complaining about Microsoft without being prepared to engage and argue that open source and full interoperability can actually help the company meet its business goals more effectively. By doing so we can help Sam get the ears of the business-line managers, and thereby promote open source from within.

I left him with a business card and an offer of assistance. It remains to be seen whether anything comes of it.

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