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Microsoft to present open source blueprint for down economy

By , Network World
March 24, 2009 08:13 AM ET

Network World - Microsoft plans to use this week's Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) to outline its move into the next phase of its open source strategy around building a business model for the down economy, according to company officials.

“We are moving from the technology footing we have been building to a business footing,” says Sam Ramji, senior director of platform strategy at Microsoft.

What that means is Microsoft will concentrate more on involving end-users, partners and systems integrators in growing Windows as a platform for running open source applications, pushing adoption of Linux as a guest on Windows-based virtualization and focusing on the integration of Windows and Linux infrastructure in the data center.

“Microsoft is seeing the heterogeneity in the enterprise as a core reality and we have built technology and partnerships to support it,” said Ramji. “The bulk of the opportunity is open source applications on Windows, but these things are all coming together. We are really bullish on being a platform for some of this innovation as customers want more functionality out of their hardware and software. We are becoming a conduit for other technologies.”

Microsoft has shipped open source elements with its high-performance computing platform, System Center management software and Visual Studio development tools.

“You are starting to see a shift in what Microsoft releases,” said Ramji.

But despite the good will and open source work, Microsoft in part is reacting to the downturn in the economy and trying to prevent corporate users and start-ups budgeting on a shoestring from defaulting to open source alternatives.

That concern was seen in last week’s announcement of BizSpark, a program that provides startups with access to free software for hosting services including the Windows OS, SQL Server and Visual Studio development tools.

In addition, Microsoft is again sowing the seeds of distrust in its relationship with some aspects of open source, including the Linux OS.

The OSBC appearance comes amid a Microsoft patent infringement suit against TomTom that alleges the company used Microsoft file technology in the Linux kernel at the heart of its devices. TomTom has filed a countersuit.

Ramji would only say that the timing of OSBC and the TomTom suit is a coincidence and that work by the independent teams at Microsoft often overlaps.

In the shadow of that legal wrangling, the details of Microsoft’s next phase within its open source movement will be presented Wednesday at OSBC (Disclosure: The conference is hosted by Network World sister publication InfoWorld) during a keynote address by Robert Youngjohns, president for Microsoft North America. Youngjohns oversees Microsoft’s 8,500-person sales force in North America.

Youngjohns is but one name on a long list of keynote speakers that includes Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst and Jim Zemlin, the CEO of the Linux Foundation.

Youngjohns' keynote is entitled “A World of Choice: Partnering for Success” and Microsoft has released a whitepaper in conjunction with the keynote.

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