Microsoft's chief software architect, Ray Ozzie, in an interview with eWEEK at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference, delved into a series of subjects, most prominently open source and interoperability, software modeling, and the Windows Azure cloud operating system.
Ray Ozzie, Microsoft
chief software architect, took time out of a very
busy schedule to chat with eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft at the
Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. Ozzie, who sets the
tone for Microsoft's overall software strategy, finally got
the opportunity to unveil part of his grand design for the future of
in the form of Windows Azure-Microsoft's cloud operating system.
with eWEEK about Azure, but also about a variety of subjects, including open
source, interoperability, software modeling and domain-specific languages. In
making his mark with Azure, Ozzie also signals to the world that he is in
How much of Microsoft's increased interest in interoperability
and support for open source comes from you?
It's hard to personalize
it like that. Like in any big organization, the way you do any kind of
change management is my simple rule of thumb: You say something, you do a
symbolic public hanging of something, and then you have to find somebody at the
edge who's actually going to be the change agent who drives things
through. You just can't make change happen when you're at that level, that
many levels of abstraction removed from where the work actually gets done.
So, have I been a proponent? Absolutely. Absolutely. And
not in interoperability for interoperability's sake-interoperability because
that's what customers do, that's what customers want, that's what customers
Read here how Microsoft's Azure could usher in the cloud as a commodity.
There was an allergy in some sectors within Microsoft interop because they
thought it was a code word for "do what people don't want us to do. ... Do
what people are telling us to do, and we're required to do." But coming
from my background, it's what people do, it's what they need. And we
should be comfortable in our own skin with who we are. Like, what's the
big deal, why be so insecure? We are Microsoft; it's OK. We can
actually have connections.
So, yeah, I've tried to set the tone. I've done a couple of things
internally that it would be the inverse of the public hanging. It would
be a lot of attention to something that is doing something good. But
really it's just mainly the people in Bob's [Muglia, senior vice president of
Microsoft's Server and Tools Business] group who have just started to do that.
One technology a lot of people look to and call for more
openness on is Silverlight. Do you have any plans to open up Silverlight in any
Like what kind of
openness are you talking about?
Well, at the very least putting it under the OSP [Microsoft's
Open Specification Promise].
They can just go
get the Mono source code and start playing with that. Or Moonlight. That's
Miguel's [de Icaza, head of the Mono project and the Moonlight effort to run
Silverlight on Linux] project. They don't need our source code; they've got
I think people, including Miguel, feel like there should be more from
OK. I'll accept
what you said. Honestly, I haven't heard that, but we travel in different
circles. But are you saying-was the question, Will we consider open-sourcing
That is a question. I think I know the answer, and the
answer is no.
I'll just give you my
perspective. If there was a benefit to open-sourcing something, a
benefit, like a customer benefit, then I don't see why we wouldn't think about
it. I mean, we open-sourced a lot of the .NET
To me it's a very pragmatic choice. I think any company these days,
any technology provider, even Microsoft, has to find the right balance of being
a contributor and user of open source. If you look at what Apple has done with
WebKit-actually if you look at Apple's entire stack, it's masterful in its use
of different licenses and different code.
Microsoft, we make our money on proprietary software, but there are areas
where interoperability is important, there are areas where cross-platform
implementations that we might not pay enough attention to might be important that
we would consider it. But I can't say in the Silverlight case. I just hadn't
heard it. I mean, I think on the Mac we should be doing such a bang-up
job that nobody would care about open source on the Mac. We're doing it for Nokia.
I think we're doing it for Windows. So, that leaves Linux.