Microsoft's Bill Hilf Reveals Its Open Source Strategy - InformationWeek

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11/15/2007
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Microsoft's Bill Hilf Reveals Its Open Source Strategy

The man in charge of Microsoft's strategy for living in harmony with Linux lays out the company's opportunities with open source and the open source business model.

Turning to the product that we're releasing, we said what do people really like about Linux servers, what do they really like about Unix servers? They like having a modular system that has a small footprint. They like having a great command line environment that allows a power user to do a lot of scripting and command line things that are not UI-based. That's what we built [Windows Server 2008] with Server Core and PowerShell and new technologies that support PHP better in IIS 7 [Internet Information Services]. For us, it's not a religion, there's literally feature requests from customers showing up in some of our competitive products, we said great, people want this stuff.

InformationWeek: Why not, say, broadly, well, let's do an interoperability agreement with the Linux community in general rather than saying, here's a deal with Xandros, here's a deal with Novell, etcetera?

Hilf: Customers are using distributions of Linux, because Linux the kernel is literally just a kernel and no one runs just a kernel, so they buy or are using distributions. That's why when we do these partnerships we want to use, we want to partner with the people who are distributing the product that customers use, the closest point of attachment to what the customer's using.

InformationWeek: Do you guys talk to the guys who are working on Samba at all?

Hilf: Yeah, I mean, I've known [Samba creator] Tridge [Andrew Tridgell] and [top Samba contributor] Jeremy Allison for many years and we have been and continue to be in active conversations with them on lots of things.

InformationWeek: But you haven't done anything deeply, you're not going to announce anything, partnerships, etcetera, at least publicly, right now?

Hilf: Not publicly right now. We're certainly, from all the activities in the EU, we've been -- they're obviously a principle project in open source related to interoperability, if not the premier open source interoperability project. So we've been talking very, very actively with them about what to do and how to do it, and things to improve things, and we're not announcing things, but I'll just say there's very, very positive conversations going on right now from both sides, and I think Jeremy would attest to that. We're still working through some issues, but it's in a very positive light.

InformationWeek: Anything closer, have you been talking to Red Hat any further?

Hilf: I'm not aware of anything that we're -- I mean, we still touch base with them every now and then, but I don't think there's anything specific that we've done.

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