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Software // Operating Systems

Inside Microsoft's $550 Million Mega Data Centers

Information Week
InformationWeek Daily - Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Editor's Note

Microsoft, The (Open Source) Census Taker

Wary eyes have been turned to Microsoft for some time now about the way they've been dipping toes into the open source pool. They're not quite ready to cannonball in -- my feeling is they simply can't -- but they're getting used to the water, and are making tentative gestures towards being a better open source citizen. The latest bit of news in that respect: becoming a co-sponsor of the Open Source Census.

Microsoft's angle on open source has been made plain before. They want to be a platform for open source (even if the platform itself is not open source), and play that much more nicely with open standards (even if they're also trying to promote "standards" that are thinly-disguised attempts to undercut other standards initiatives). In short, they're making what half-steps are possible for them, given their long history as a closed shop and the legacy burden of such work.

None of this is really the fault of the people Microsoft has tapped for their open source work, like Sam Ramji and the rest of his crew. They take their job seriously, and this is one of the ways they can do their job in a relatively unfettered fashion. Sponsoring the OSC gives them that much more presence as an open source player, and may in the long run also give them more detailed statistics about who's running what open source on Windows.

Once the stats start rolling in, I'm going to be curious to see what the trends are for Windows as an open source platform -- not just who's running what, but what percentage of people are migrating to or away from it, and why. And if a sizeable chunk of their lost business is people who want an open platform, and are even willing to pay for it, then maybe that'll send a signal all the way back up to the top that'll be hard to ignore.

What do you think of Microsoft's open source strategy? Let us know.

Serdar Yegulalp
[email protected]

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