Microsoft is big on inviting not just its customers and partners, but non-believers, too, to visit the Microsoft campus and discover for themselves that Softies are people, too.
(And who better to ask than Java, PHP and Linux developers -- as Microsoft execs seemingly did several times during the Summit -- "How we suck"?)
This past week, about 50 "non-fanboys" (and a couple non-fangirls) participated in what's become an annual event: The Microsoft Technology Summit. Microsoft rolled out some big guns to address the invited guests, including Bill Hilf, General Manager Platform Strategy ;Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president of developer and platform evangelism; dynamic language experts John Lam and Jim Hugunin; SOAP creator Don Box and .Net platform developer Chris Anderson.
Among the invited guests:
* Dion Almaer, founder and CTO of Adigio and a J2EE, JDO, AOP, Groovy expert
* Yakov Fain, a senior architect with a consulting company a contributing editor at Java Developer's Journal
* Dianne Marsh, co-founder of SRT Solutions and an organizer of the CodeMash conference
* David Strom, an Internet/networking expert and journalist
* Travis Swicegood, a key PHP community member
From various blogged accounts of the Summit from some of the participants, it sounds like Microsoft got what it wanted: critical feedback on everything from its Ajax platform, to its open-source strategy (or lack thereof).
No one was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), meaning no new secrets were spilled. But many of those who blogged the summit seemed quite interested in what Microsoft is saying and doing, especially around dynamic languages.
Some interesting observations from the invited guests:
Strom: "They (Microsoft) are trying to regain Web thought leadership with IE7 and IIS7, but the open source group (or at least the group that was assembled) has moved on to Firefox and LAMP."
Swicegood: "We got an apology from Box for all of the statements that (CEO Steve) Ballmer makes that scares people. :-)"
Fain: "Someone asked (Hilf) about incompatibility of the MSWord 2007 format with previous versions of Word. Bill was trying to give a soft answer, but someone from the audience said 'No one having a half brain would believe your last statement… Did MS expect this kind of a feedback?"
Almaer: On the topic of Microsoft's Ajax implementation -- "Why create your own client side library instead of working with one of the other libraries. (Program Manager) Joe (Stagner) felt that the language extensions were necessary for commercial development on Ajax. The customers want the synergy of the client and the server side. I think that it is all about control ;)"