Microsoft Keeps Up Presence at Open-Source Events

The software maker is sponsoring the Open-Source Business Conference and other such events as it aims to get its voice and message heard by core customers. LinuxWorld, however, is not on the list.

Determined to have its presence seen and its voice heard by its core customer constituencies amid the growing open-source chorus, Microsoft is coughing up cash and sponsoring targeted open-source conferences.

The Redmond, Wash., software maker is a platinum sponsor of the OSBC (Open-Source Business Conference), being held in San Francisco on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jason Matusow, director of the Shared Source program at Microsoft Corp., also will give a talk Wednesday afternoon examining the effects of commercialization on open-source software and discussing strategies for adopting source-code licensing in a commercial software organization.

Microsoft, which has rented booth space at the annual LinuxWorld shows on both the East and West Coasts for the past few years, decided not to have a booth presence at this years LinuxWorld show in Boston.

That decision was made because most of the core customers Microsoft wanted to target—corporate IT professionals—simply did not attend the show, Martin Taylor, Linux platform strategist at Microsoft, told eWEEK earlier this year.

"So, there seems to be little to be gained by showing up again," Taylor said from Redmond. "We just do not know how having a booth would help us get our message out at this point in time. We have pretty much said what we have to say for the moment."

Microsoft also has attended and sponsored the annual OReilly Open-Source Conference for the past two years and is expected to do so again this year.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read about Microsofts participation in the open-source show.

In an interview Monday ahead of the OSBC, Matusow agreed with Taylors assessment, telling eWEEK that Microsoft is supporting shows where it is most likely to get its voice and message heard by core customers.

Asked about the companys ongoing participation at open-source conferences in spite of its proprietary software model, Matusow said Microsoft still has lessons to learn from the open-source process and community.

But he added that the company will continue to aggressively compete with the Linux operating-system vendors as well as with the database and tools vendors.

Matusow said Microsofts Shared Source model has worked well for it and that there are no plans to change that approach. "There are some 1.5 million developers involved in our 20-odd Shared Source programs, and that is just the start.

"We are targeting other markets like academia, and we feel that our strategy toward shared source over the past four years was the right one and has worked well for us," he said.

Microsoft has learned a number of lessons through its Shared Source program over the past four years, Matusow said, including that source-code access can be very beneficial or entirely irrelevant, depending on customers needs.

"But what we found in general was that offering access to our source code to end users results in greater trust as a result of the increased transparency involved," he said.

Microsoft also has learned that reference mechanisms hold great value and that providing code for review can be a powerful tool. Being flexible around licensing is also important, as one license does not fit all, Matusow said.

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