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A tale of two stacks

Microsoft — or at least part of Microsoft — continues its quest to persuade open-source developers that Windows should be on their short-list of platforms. You know, right up there with Linux.

Sam Ramji, the Microsoft guy whose job it is to mend fences and foster collaboration with open-source ISVs and other partners points to progress.  

Exhibit A: Ramji — his formal title is director of platform technology strategy — will keynote at this spring’s EclipseCon conference. Not traditionally a big venue for Microsoft execs.

Exhibit B: Nearly a third (30 percent) of SugarCRM’s business is now on Windows, he says. SugarCRM is the open-source CRM pioneer. Two years ago Microsoft and SugarCRM inked a technical collaboration pact.

Exhibit C: Of the 140,000-some-odd applications on the Sourceforge repository some 77,000 now run on Windows, Ramji says. Admittedly, a large number of that 140,000 are probably dead apps, but why quibble?

Ramji also points to the fact that IIS now supports PHP development. And the final release of a SQL Server driver that will let PHP talk to SQL Server 2005 and 2008 should be available for download alter this year.

Microsoft has made some good moves to soothe open sourcers’ qualms about the company and its occasional legal saber rattling. It hired Tom Hanrahan, former director of engineering at the Linux Foundation to direct Microsoft’s Linux Interoperability Labs.

Still there are gaping holes. Microsoft is pushing to get every app possible to run on Windows becuase that’s good for Microsoft. What it’s not saying is when Office will run on Linux. Ideas? Anyone? Is it really so outrageous to even ask the question?

Ramji and team may have their hearts in the right place about peaceful and fruitful coexistence of open source and Microsoft stacks. But the question is Microsoft overall and whether  its defense of intellectual property rights (aka patents)  is antithetical to open source.

In the real world people run both open-source and Microsoft stacks — and partners supporting them must know how to ensure the dual-stack works. So they have to watch what, Ramji’s team — as well as Microsoft writ large — are doing.

For more on open source and channel opportunities see  this story.

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Hey Barbara! I'm glad to have read your article. I think that Sam's Exhibit A does a good job of showing that Microsoft is trying to pursue a better relationship with open source developers (and the community at large.) Clearly, Sam has done a great job of getting the message out and building great relationships - I wouldn't go so far as to say that Microsoft as a whole has made that same progress, though. In this community, the action of individuals is often worth more, and Sam is encumbered by a great deal of baggage (some old and some new...) Regarding Exhibit B, I think that's something for Microsoft to be proud of, for sure, but it could also be argued that it's more indicative of Microsoft's well-documented successes elsewhere. I'd imagine that the Sugar folks offer support for Windows because Microsoft owns a substantial chunk of the server market. It's an effective product strategy - Microsoft's success in the server market makes it hard for commercial open source vendors to ignore them - but is that really based on community goodwill? For Exhibit C, I'd like to get a bit more specific on the numbers. Approximately 40,000 of those 77,000 projects that run on Windows have categorized themselves as "OS Independent (Written in an interpreted language)" or "OS Portable (Source code to work with many OS platforms)". I'd imagine that includes mostly Java/Perl/Python/PHP stuff. That leaves about 37,000 projects that are specifically designed to work on Windows. Still, that's a lot. However, I would assert that the large number of projects has to do with the ubiquitousness of Microsoft's platforms, good opportunities for developers to innovate on them, and Microsoft's success in marketing to developers in general. It is, however, very true that open source and the Microsoft stack are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, the open source community is very active on Microsoft platforms, but to consider this activity a sign of progress for Microsoft's efforts with the open source community may be somewhat misleading. (Incidentally, I think it's great that Microsoft is motivated to get a better name for themselves in the open source community, but I think they're at the beginning of a very long road. I wish them the very best, and am always available to help if there's anything I can do!) Thoughts?
Hah! Forgot to mention that I'm the Community Manager for That's why I found your article of particular interest. :)