Hey, how about some free stuff from Microsoft? Seriously.

Don't spend hundreds or thousands on technical computer books that cover Microsoft technologies, download them free of charge. Legally. From Microsoft. Seriously.

It isn't often that I can be the bearer of good news about the tech industry but here's some for you. Free ebooks from Microsoft on Microsoft technologies. You can download them and keep them and pay nothing. Skeptical? So was I until I read Eric Ligman's post about it. Free ebooks covering SharePoint, Visual Studio, Windows Phone, Windows 8, Office 365, Office 2010, SQL Server 2012, Azure, and more. Thousands of dollars worth of free stuff from Microsoft? I haven't consumed any Microsoft Kool-Aid yet but I'm thinking that I need to sample a bit of it.

And, even crazier than that? Eric posted a second site full of more free ebooks because of the success of his first post.

My head is spinning.

No, it's not spinning from the searing heat nor the fermented or distilled beverages that I sometimes consume*. It's from this weirdness coming out of Redmond.

There's something crazy brewing up there and it ain't overpriced coffee or gourmet beer.

Microsoft is making some sort of business paradigm shift and I'm trying to get my head around it. For the past few years, Microsoft has run an entire free software site named Port25. The whole thing is now known as Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc--a subsidiary of Microsoft. 

I'm still shocked and surprised every time I think about it.

And, you can say whatever you want about Microsoft--Microsoft-bashing is fairly common--but you have to admit, things have changed around there in recent years. Some naysayers would say that Microsoft is reacting to the free software movement including Linux, OpenOffice.org, Apache and so on, but I think it goes deeper than that.

Sure, they're keeping pace with market changes, adapting, innovating and still carrying things their own direction but, you have to admit, no matter how crass you are, that Microsoft is a far different company than it was just ten short years ago.

Free software, free ebooks, free virtual machines and free who knows what's next? I'm impressed with Microsoft's strides in this area. Shocked, surprised, awed and convinced this is a new path for them. It is a good shift in the right direction.

Though, I'm not implying that Microsoft give away "the farm" but to see that they're changing with the times is good. I think Windows 2012 and Windows 8 will propel them even further into the future as a company reborn. Reborn and refitted for the future.

I found, when I was in business for myself, that there's a certain amount of expected good will. Microsoft has made its point. I'm happy.

However, it's sad in a way because Microsoft-hating for some industry writers had become a mainstay. Yes, I've done a bit of it myself but not without great thoughtfulness and contemplation. And, when I was in business, I did a huge number of Microsoft conversions from SCO UNIX, Novell and miscellaneous weirdness* that people got themselves into.

Microsoft: I'm only going to say this once. "You had me at 'TaDaa.' Today, I'm beating my sword into a ploughshare and am farming the Microsoft patch before me. I, for one, believe that Microsoft has found 'the way of peace.' But, know this, I'm no fool, I'll be watching.

For a time, enjoy the abundance that Microsoft has poured out on you.

*Though, I'm willing to try a few. Make a suggestion.

**You just wouldn't believe the things I've seen in companies--solutions perhaps that worked for a time but were long overdue for a good threshing. My technology war stories/memoires could easily fill a book.