Microsoft'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.