Just how closely is Microsoft studying the open-source play book?

Just how closely is Microsoft studying the open-source play book?

Summary: If you really want to understand the extent to which the Softies are studying open-source methods for clues that might be used in shaping their own business practices, it's worth checking out a couple of recent posts from John D'Addamio, a software design engineer in test in Microsoft's Developer Aftermarket Solutions unit.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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It's no secret that Microsoft has been analyzing the open-source world for a few years now from a competitive perspective. Microsoft is endeavoring to emulate some open-source best practices with projects like its officelabs incubator effort.

But if you really want to understand the extent to which the Softies are studying open-source methods for clues that might be used in shaping their own business practices, it's worth checking out a couple of recent posts from John D'Addamio, a software design engineer in test in Microsoft's Developer Aftermarket Solutions unit.

("For about 25 years, I worked in the proprietary UNIX, FreeBSD, and Linux world. We were using open source software before it was called open source," D'Addamio said in a recent blog post.)

Four-year Microsoft veteran D'Addamio describes his job at Microsoft as being "part of a team that is producing open source software." The Developer Aftermarket team is "primarily developing open source tools related to Visual Studio," D'Addamio said. And the team "has taken some cues from the Community Based Open Source world" in doing so, he said.

"(P)art of my work is evangelizing open source within Microsoft and exploring how processes need to change for corporate teams to work in the open source world," D'Addamio explained. D'Addamio said he's been focusing a lot lately on the differences between testing closed and open-source software.

"So, what is different about testing open source projects? I came to the conclusion that the answer is 'Not much!'"

D'Addamio made a couple of other observations:

* "The primary difference from the corporate model, so far, is that a corporate designer/developer does not usually manage the project."

* "I think the main thing our corporate team may do differently than the Community Based Open Source world is that we think about testing during the project definition phase."

D'Addamio also offers tips for developers looking to do Community-Based open-source projects, ranging from " Do not get discouraged!" to "After you go open, respond to bug reports quickly."

Meanwhile, Microsoft is continuing to add quietly to its list of developer tools and add-ins that it has released under Shared Source or full-fledged open-source licenses. There are 65 such tools listed on the Shared Source site, including everything from a Web client Software Factory, to the Contacts.Net set of managed programming interfaces introduced to support Vista.

What's your take? Do you see closed- and open-source development and testing models as more similar than different? Or at opposite ends of software-design spectrum?

Topic: Open Source

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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35 comments
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  • Microsoft are commited to stamping out Open Source

    Vista's DRM requirements are securely built on a Microsoft desire to control "Approval" for hardwre drivers - specifically excluding Open Source drivers. Just as "Open" XMS XML demands that implementors of the "Open" standard demand backwards compatability with proprietary, legacy Microsoft applications, for which the specs are not available, right down to enforcing adoption of a Microsoft coding error which incorrectly says the year 1900 was a laep year.


    Why keep pretending that Microsoft are anti-Oopen Source?

    http://boingboing.net/2006/01/30/msft_our_drm_licensi.html

    Yesterday, I spoke at a DRM conference in London. Just before me was the opening keynote, from Microsoft's Amir Majidimehr, Corporate VP of the Windows Digital Media Division, which oversees licensing and deployment of Microsoft's DRM.

    Amir's presentation kept referring to Microsoft DRM as "open," which was curious, because it's actually the opposite of open. An open platform is something like an electrical outlet: if you want to design something to plug into an electrical outlet, you can -- you might have to satisfy a regulator that it won't burst into flames, but you certainly don't need to talk to General Electric or any other potential competitor.

    Microsoft's DRM requires that device makers pay Microsoft a license fee for each device that plays back video encoded with its system. it also requires every such vendor to submit to a standardized, non-negotiable license agreement that spells out how the player must be implemented. This contract contains numerous items that limit the sort of business you're allowed to pursue, notably that you may not implement a Microsoft player in open source software.

    The bombshell was Amir's explanation of the reason that his employer charges fees to license its DRM. According to Amir, the fee is not intended to recoup the expenses Microsoft incurred in developing their DRM, or to turn a profit. The intention is to reduce the number of licensors to a manageable level, to lock out "hobbyists" and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with.
    whisperycat
    • If I loan you a buck, will you please buy a clue?

      "Vista's DRM requirements are securely built on a Microsoft desire to control "Approval" for hardwre drivers..."

      Bullshat!!! The CONTENT OWNERS are demanding that their content be controled, not Microsoft, not Linux, not Apple, not HP, not, Dell, not, Gateway, not NVidia, not AMD, it's the OWNERS that demand protection for THEIR PROPERTY.


      Sheesh, are you really that slow?
      No_Ax_to_Grind
      • Keep the buck and buy a clue yourself

        The content owners don't seem to be demanding that Open Source hardware drivers on the Mac platform are approved by Microsoft. Woops, there goes your flimsy rejoiner! You appear to be deliberately overlooking the fact that it is MIcrosoft's stated intention to use driver approval to exclude Open Source drivers, and Microsoft's stated intention alone. Not the content providers. Not Apple. I hope you haven't asked them for a rise lately, you're under-performing badly ...
        whisperycat
        • What the frack has MS to do with (ugh) Apple?

          And if you submit your driver for testing and approval it will either pass or not. Has ZERO to do with who wrote it.
          No_Ax_to_Grind
          • The point is

            You have to pay ms to get approval for something that is clearly not open. If it were open, you wouldn't have to do that. You could simply design your driver to the open specs.
            davidsarmstrong
          • Yeah, we seen how well that worked. NOT!!

            Crappy drivers has been the bain of Windows sicne forever and I for one am GLAD there is some quality control being put in place.
            No_Ax_to_Grind
          • Don't just blame the driver writers

            If Microsoft had ever designed security into their driver models, a badly written driver wouldn't be capable of taking down the entire computer. But they long ago made the decision to give drivers permission to do _anything_, whether it was legitimate or not.
            alflanagan
        • Agreed

          the previous poster doesn't understand the issue.
          davidsarmstrong
          • Pardon me?

            What issue? That MS is qualifying device drivers to try and weed out the garbage? Well thank God they are because half baked drivers have always been a major issue and I don't want/need a device driver written by kiddies in their mom's basement.
            No_Ax_to_Grind
          • What else is new?

            He (No_Ax_to_Grind) just praises Microsoft (for the most part) and whines or pontificates a lot. He is just another lamb for the slaughter!
            B.O.F.H.
  • Microsft, like IBM, Sun, HP, etc...

    Will use it to benefit their bottom line. That is as it should be in a for profit organization.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Profit

      And it's worth noting that "profit" is not a four letter word.
      perryroyce@...
      • Unless your name is Stallman....

        ;-:
        No_Ax_to_Grind
        • Message has been deleted.

          B.O.F.H.
        • Profit is okay

          Noone, including Stallman, are arguing against profit. MS is arguing for complete control not only of their software, but in squeezing competitors who want to play in the same game.
          davidsarmstrong
          • Yes, that is what competition does.

            "but in squeezing competitors who want to play in the same game."

            Yes, you are correct, that is what competition is about. Or do you think GM doesn't try to squeeze Ford and Chrysler?
            No_Ax_to_Grind
          • too much squeeze...

            is when there becomes an issue. MS has squeezed enough of their competition that they don't really have as much competition, and they're still squeezing.

            Perfect competition will guarantee that there is fair pricing, that there isn't price gauge-ing, and that the markets keep moving...

            oligopolies aren't much better than monopolies, and neither is good for the market. Some industries, it's necessary, such as airline aircraft production (there are 2 in that market), however, for software, more choice is better, the market can sustain more competition, and no one is saying that people shouldn't make profits... but it should be people, not a single company.
            shryko
    • Value for the money

      There is no reason why MS shouldn't be able to turn a profit. But at the same time there is no reason why, as a customer, I shouldn't be able to expect a product that is worth the investment.
      I think a big lesson MS needs to learn from the open source community is - Do it right or someone else will do it better. Crippleware will not fly in open source.
      skeptic90210
      • Oh please..

        "Do it right or someone else will do it better."

        Then why the constant need to update Linux? Why all the patchs to FireFox? Why all the patchs to PHP? Why all the patchs to SQL?

        The list is endless. Guess they haven't been able to "do it right" either and have been oushing crippleware...
        No_Ax_to_Grind
        • And why...

          Does Microsoft need to patch/update etc? Surely as they are doing it for the money, they should be able to do it right.

          Following your logic, Microsoft is pushing crippleware for money!
          zkiwi