Hanrahan hire shows true Microsoft weakness

Hanrahan hire shows true Microsoft weakness

Summary: Despite all the FUD and the threats, Big Green knows it must still live with Linux in the computing environment. Its customers demand it, they expect it, and Microsoft must deliver it.

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Tom Hanrahan from Nikkei Business Press, 2005 storyMicrosoft's hire of Tom Hanrahan (right), formerly director of engineering for the Linux Foundation (and before that of the OSDL, one of its predecessors) says a lot about the company's true open source situation.

Hanrahan will now be running Microsoft's interoperability lab, which it set up after its Novell deal. His immediate supervisor will be Sam Ramji, who runs its Open Source Software Lab. Above him will be Bill Hilf, general manager of the Platform Strategy Group.

Sounds like a nice job. Hope his co-workers gave him a cake. Maybe shared a few after-work beers. Not to mention some lame jokes. He's a jolly good fellow. 

This is not a big deal to the Linux Foundation, the way the hire of a key employee might be a big deal to a commercial rival. We're not talking about someone stealing into the night with trade secrets.

It may show how the "merger" of OSDL and the old Free Standards Group was really an acquisition of the former by the latter. But that's inside baseball, trivial in the greater scheme of things.

In fact I find this to be good news, demonstrating you can work at the Linux Foundation and still go on to earn the big money elsewhere.

What does this say about Microsoft? Despite all the FUD and the threats, Big Green knows it must still live with Linux in the computing environment. Its customers demand it, they expect it, and Microsoft must deliver it.

Sure, Hilf and Ramji are the "good cop" folks trotted out only when Microsoft is pretending to be nice. I don't give them any credence when they pretend to spout policy. They are underlings. But they provide an essential service, one Hanrahan will now help provide, and for users that's a good thing.

Topics: Linux, Microsoft, Open Source

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14 comments
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  • I imagine that MS is thinking that they need more "good cops" to counter

    the negative image problem from the IP campaigns. But, yes, it is a sign of the times.
    DonnieBoy
  • You just noticed?

    The Linux lab has been running for some time. Microsoft has been working on interoperability. The company is even selling its preferred version of Linux(!). Steve Ballmer took the Red Hat CEO to lunch some time ago, probably to welcome him to the club of commercial competitors.

    To say that Microsoft recognizes market conditions requires little daring.



    To me, the key issue is whether open source can assemble a set of well-connected software that can duplicate the functionality and capabilities of Microsoft's products. Well enough to satisfy enterprise customers and not just open source advocates.
    (For all the posts here, this is primarily an enterprise and not a home competition. The [prize is money expended.)

    Microsoft's software might work well with open source right up until the moment other Microsoft software replaces it.
    Anton Philidor
    • It isn't 1998

      [B]To me, the key issue is whether open source can assemble a set of well-connected software that can duplicate the functionality and capabilities of Microsoft's products.[/B]

      It isn't like this has not already been accomplished!? Linux in the enterprise is everywhere. Your statement is ala Gartner around 1998 timeframe. Been there, done that.

      [B]Microsoft's software might work well with open source right up until the moment other Microsoft software replaces it.[/B]

      If MS had the ability, this would have already have happened, before it even started. MS would have squashed the also ran software long ago, but it didn't. MS won't be able to, not on all 1400 fronts it is now battling on (enterprise, desktop, media, music, movies, entertainment, internet apps, search, etc...). It is a big company, but it is still only a single company, and despite it's desires to be everything to everyone, that battle has been lost, it should focus on being the best at what it can do.

      Don't get me wrong. If MS dedicated and decided, we are going to drive SAMBA, for example, back into a niche product, they throw 10K developers at the problem, meet, then exceed, then blow away SAMBAA performance numbers, they could re-win that market. It comes at the expense of Apache, or the collaberation suite, or Longhorn development, etc, the others they have to stop focusing on.

      TripleII
      TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
      • Yes, Microsoft has progressed for 10 years.

        Your comment reminded me that in 1998 Microsoft was selling W98 (and not even se) as an improvement. Probably only the expectations created by W95 and the limits of what software was known to do allowed W98 to be considered a gain. A tolerant definition of "good enough" software leading to huge revenues.

        Microsoft's products are now better, and computing has benefitted. ( ;-) )


        On-topic, in response to my:

        "... the key issue is whether open source can assemble a set of well-connected software that can duplicate the functionality and capabilities of Microsoft's products."

        ... you responded (in part):

        "Linux in the enterprise is everywhere."

        Yes, Linux is in wide use (rather than everywhere). But my comment referred to all the other Microsoft products made to work well with Windows. If open source products are separate, with no especial;ly good connection between them, Microsoft can pick those products off one by one.

        Assume that Linux could be replaced on servers without other effect, and compare that to the replacement of any one Microsoft product reducing the performance (in fact or impression) of 10 other products, and you can see why Microsoft's large product line is an advantage.


        You gave the example of Microsoft expending a great deal of effort on displacing SAMBA. Considering that's software which does the same thing as Microsoft products, seems a waste of effort.

        Even attention to Apache, which has a large market share, wouldn't repay Microsoft's time. A large number of Apache users are hobbyists who are not in Microsoft's preferred market, those who pay a lot of money.

        Microsoft will be releasing a home server, and I suspect that the intent is to reinforce Windows and sell related products.

        If you look at paid installs, you will, I believe, see a significantly better Microsoft market share. To see the company's strategy, track profits.
        Anton Philidor
        • Hobbyists

          [i]Even attention to Apache, which has a large market share, wouldn't repay Microsoft's time. A large number of Apache users are hobbyists who are not in Microsoft's preferred market, those who pay a lot of money.[/i]

          Totally unscientific Netcraft sampling:

          Charles Schwab: Linux/IBM Websphere
          E-Trade: Linux/Apache
          Wells Fargo: Solaris/Konichiwa
          HSBC: Solaris/Sun One
          BN: W2K/IIS5
          American Express: Linux/IBM Websphere
          Citibank: Solaris/---
          Amazon: Linux
          Ford: Linux/IIS5 (don't ask me)
          Toyota: Linux/Apache
          Chevrolet: Linux/Sun One

          Those are some of the biggest e-commerce sites in the world. I don't see anything there to suggest that Apache is less well-regarded at the big-money end of things than MS' IIS6 (which I didn't find mentioned, for whatever reason.)
          anonymous
          • Thanks for the info

            and re-enforcing my point, MS can dedicate itself to really going after Apache or the entire LAMP stack, throw everything they can to crush it, but then they ignore the SAMBA problem, or Online Apps, (live offerings) or any number of things it is battling on. I just feel that MS is spread too thin to keep up with it all.

            If they could keep up with all of it, like I said, 6 years ago, every place Open Source was "attacking" would have been rebuffed with ease, and yet, Open Source is growing on every single front. Any places where MS has done better than slow adoption (i.e. reverse adoption?)

            TripleII
            TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
          • Market segments.

            Should Microsoft compete directly with Apache?

            Well, Apache has the bottom of the market, hobbyists. And, as you indicate, Apache is also present in some of the very large companies Microsoft has in part left to SAP.

            But then as sales prospects Microsoft is left with all those companies which are willing to pay, unlike the hobbyists, and which does not have a staff - or interest in hiring a staff - sufficient to do much of the work in-house.

            If Microsoft ignores Apache or considers it an obstacle to a sale rather than a competitor, would you conclude the company is making an error?
            Anton Philidor
      • some clarification

        (quote)
        it should focus on being the best at what it can do
        (end quote)

        You mean Microsoft should concentrate on producing bloatware and backdoors for malware? I've got news for you: they've been doing that for years and they're doing a great job of it. I can't think of any contemporary company doing a better job than MS.
        zoroaster
    • Microsoft has been working on interoperability.

      But they still haven't found a cure.
      anonymous
      • :o) nice one !!

        nt
        deaf_e_kate
    • Arms race

      [i]To me, the key issue is whether open source can assemble a set of well-connected software that can duplicate the functionality and capabilities of Microsoft's products.[/i]

      Precisely -- it's an arms race to see if MS can break compatibility faster than the rest of the world can reverse-engineer their obfuscation.

      [i]Microsoft's software might work well with open source right up until the moment other Microsoft software replaces it.[/i]

      Another way of saying the same thing.
      anonymous
  • L . O . S ....

    You mean this is the loser who betrayed the Open Source Community going to work for The Enemy? Helping Him steal from Open Source Developers without giving code back in??
    EpsDel
    • it doesn't matter -

      These people (Hanrahan, Hilf) are nothing but managers. They needed the FOSS community for their paycheck, but FOSS doesn't need them. I'm still baffled as to why MS is wasting money on them; these people were never in any way or by any stretch of the imagination of the least significance to FOSS.
      zoroaster
  • This is Big Part of Problem at MS

    Hires like these are a big problem for MS and, more importantly, shareholders. The situations is similar to GM or other large decades-old companies with big pension liabilities. In the case of MS, so many people in the industry are given decent paying jobs either as a reward for acting as a loyal purchasing agent at a customer, or simply for being a name brand manager or architect from a competitive environment. All these years later, it seems like MS has a large boat-load of "consultants", "evangelists", and other such non-ciritcal positions that are likely to be viewed as fluffy from critical-thinking analysts.

    --Doug Hettinger
    dhettinger