Posted by Tara Grumm
Senior Manager, Worldwide Marketing and Operations

 S. Somasegar is Corporate Vice President of the Developer Division at Microsoft and responsible for developer tools and services, including the programming languages and runtimes designed for a broad base of software developers and development teams, the Visual Studio line of products and services, the .NET Framework, and MSDN. In addition, Somasegar is also the executive sponsor for the Cloud and Enterprise business’s Global Development Centers in China, India, and Israel.

He took a break from his many developer-related duties to share his perspectives on openness at Microsoft, including how the spirit of openness is helping us “think bigger.”

Why do you feel being open is so important with your/your team’s work at Microsoft?

In the developer tools space, there is so much great value being created in open source ecosystems. Figuring out how to contribute to those ecosystems, and add new value on top of everything they are already doing is something our team is constantly thinking about. By standing on each other’s shoulders, we can deliver truly differentiated, unique value. This is true both for the great open source ecosystems around our own platforms and tools like Visual Studio, .NET and Azure, but also around other environments that we support with our tools and services. 

We now build on and contribute to open source projects across the industry, including libgit2, the ASP.NET web stack, Node.js, and TypeScript. We are also updating our MVP program to recognize the great work that developers are doing in the open source communities around our developer platforms. 

I shared a few details about the sorts of engagements we've seen with open source on my blog earlier today, and I expect to see even more engagement going forward.

How do you see the spirit of openness changing the way Microsoft does business?

We're increasingly able to think bigger. When we think about building up new tools or services, we think not just about what we can build and what our partners will build, we also think about how we can integrate into the open source developer ecosystem in a way that adds new value.

If you meet people skeptical of Microsoft’s commitment to openness, what would be your elevator pitch to them?

Ultimately, actions speak louder than words. Take a look at what we've been doing over the last year, and stay tuned for what is to come in the next year. I think you'll see a really strong level of openness and engagement with open source.

What has been your most memorable “Microsoft is open” experience?

One example that comes to mind was our release of TypeScript

We decided early on that we wanted this to be an open source language and compiler, and I think that was really well received by developers, both those already working with Microsoft technologies as well as many who weren't. But what really stood out for me was when we saw the DefinitelyTyped repository pop up shortly after we released TypeScript. This was an open source community created and curated collection of TypeScript library typings which makes TypeScript even more valuable to a broader set of developers.  And no one company or person could possibly create and maintain this. 

Through over 4000 contributions from over 350 people, this library has grown to be a great asset for TypeScript developers. 

What’s your favorite technology innovation?

It's a broad one, but I'd say the technology innovation that I find most interesting is Personal Computing.  Providing an individual with the power of a personal computing device transforms the way they can interact with everything and everyone around them and opens up new worlds to explore. When I started working at Microsoft, we were hard at work on the first wave of personal computing with desktop computers in the home and office. Now, across the globe, a large number of people are being introduced to smart phones as their first personal computing device which opens up a world of opportunities to them.

Where do you feel you get your best work done?

My team recently moved into a new building with an open team room setup. It is geared towards having a team room for the team to work together while also providing individual workspaces as needed for focus and privacy. It's a great environment for light-weight collaborations within teams, and has really broken down barriers. I recently spoke with GeekWire about the new space and how it's changing the way we work.

And Microsoft has been an incredible place to work to get the chance to sit in the driver's seat of our industry's impact.

If you’re interested in learning more about Somasegar’s work, check out his blog here.