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by hanrahat on November 04, 2008 11:32am
At last week's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, product previews and announcements, particularly of Windows Azure, Windows 7 and Visual Studio Team System 2010, generated a lot of buzz. Throughout the week, an important undercurrent to that story was Microsoft's engagement with the open source community and its support for open source developers.
Certainly one of the open source highlights for the week was Miguel de Icaza's presentation, "Mono and .Net." In spite of arriving on time for the session, I wound up viewing it from the second overflow room. Miguel talked about innovations on which the Mono community has focused recently, including their embedded C# compiler. His game demos of the technology were fun and amazing to watch. You can see them for yourself here.
Members of my team spent the month leading up to the conference developing three demonstrations of Windows Azure's ability to support open source developers and open source applications. We ran all three at the Open Source pedestal in the Microsoft booth and each was highlighted in a session during the conference.
One of the demos shows how developers can use Eclipse to create applications and deploy them as Azure services. It relies on an Eclipse community plug-in "Emonics" for displaying C# syntax and a "proof-of-concept" Azure plug-in we created for building and deploying the application. This demo was highlighted in Steve Marx's presentation, "Developing and Deploying Your First Cloud Service," which you can find here.
The second demo shows how an open source application can access services from Azure. In this one, we chose the popular PHP application Gallery and show how it can store, retrieve and modify photos as binary large objects (BLOBs) in the cloud. To produce this demo we wrote two small modules, one to create wrappers that represent the BLOB REST API as PHP objects and another to create an Azure subclass with inheritance from the Windows NT Platform class.
We created the third demo to illustrate how an open source developer can use OpenID to authenticate users from an Azure service. For this one, we modified a demo blog service (based on BlogEngine.net) and gave users the option of authenticating through either OpenID or Live ID.
Both the Gallery and OpenID demos were highlighted in Daniel Wang and Stefan Schackow's presentation, "Cloud Computing: Programming in the Cloud." You can find Daniel and Stefan's presentation here.
The excitement that PDC produced was remarkable. I moved through a steady stream of developers for four days, all of us sustained it seems by tables of fruit, powerbars and various forms of chocolate. I enjoyed meeting and talking with many of the attendees and as always appreciate how much I learn in those conversations.
I want to thank Steve Marx, Daniel Wang and Stefan Schackow for sharing the stage with us. Kudos to Hank Janssen, Anandeep Pannu, Garrett Serack and Joel Penner for creating the Azure demonstrations we used throughout the week. And a tip of my hat to Miguel for making the week so fun.
by Peter Galli on November 04, 2008 03:49pm
The extremely popular and well attended Web 2.0 Summit starts in San Francisco today, where Microsoft officially launched its global BizSpark program, designed to help startups grow into successful businesses through software support, a vibrant global ecosystem that delivers superior business advantage, and opportunities for visibility through a new online database, the BizSparkDB.
BizSpark is available globally to privately held startups that are building a software-based product or service, that have been in business less than three years, and have less than $1 million in revenue.
It also provides startups with software, support and visibility early in their life cycle when those resources are most needed and least affordable. As such, Microsoft has decided that the $100 program fee will be made payable when the company leaves the program rather than upfront when joining.
Under the program, startups will receive speedy, easy access to Microsoft's current full-featured development tools, platform technologies, and production licenses of server products. They can use these immediately to develop and bring innovative and interoperable solutions to market with no upfront costs and minimal requirements.
Startups will also receive professional support from Microsoft and BizSpark Network Partners around the world. Network Partners are incubators, investors, advisors, government agencies and hosters who are vested in software-fueled innovation and entrepreneurship.
BizSpark members will also be informed about those programs of particular interest to startups, including the Microsoft Web Platform Installer and Microsoft Web Application Installer.
These offerings make it easier for developers to bring PHP and .NET Web applications to market faster, with a streamlined download, install and configure experience, as well as design and development integration and pre-packaged open source applications that run well on the Microsoft Web Platform.
BizSpark members will also get access to the community technology preview of the Azure Services Platform, which was announced last month at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles.
Azure is a new computing platform that will help developers build the next generation of applications, spanning all the way from the cloud to the enterprise datacenter, while delivering new experiences across the PC, Web and phone.
They will also get access to the community technical preview of the Live Framework, a simple, open and interoperable framework for developers to access and consume Live Services, a set of building blocks within the Azure Services Platform for handling user data and application resources, which includes Live Mesh technologies for synchronizing users' data and extending Web applications across multiple devices.
The BizSpark program is a really positive move, since most startups pretty much always needs help, even in the best of times. In times of economic hardship, they need all the help they can get, so they can deliver on their promise of great software innovation and job creation. Microsoft is doing its part to make sure that happens.
by Paul Long on November 07, 2008 10:49am
Today I am excited to announce that the development of protocol parsers for Microsoft Network Monitor is moving into an open source model, hosted on CodePlex. This site will host development of parsers for public protocols and for protocols described in our Open Protocol Specifications for Windows.
Network Monitor is a free protocol analyzer and network sniffer. It allows you to capture and view network traffic in a format that is easier for humans to read. It is often used as a troubleshooting/development tool or to validate that a protocol is behaving as you expect.
We've started the ball rolling by releasing an updated parser package and creating a source tree on Codeplex. While this process will take time, we hope to have all bugs filed on the site within a few months, as well as having all parser development taking place directly on CodePlex.
Every month we'll post a new installer package that Netmon users will be able to install, so as to benefit from the latest changes.
As we continue to evolve, we hope that the community will get involved by filing bugs and suggestions, contributing code and new parsers, and helping us improve how information like summaries and field descriptions are displayed.
At some point we also anticipate that some of our committed users will manage subsets of the parsers.
We are also really excited about the impact of making our parsers open source. The force of the community should help us keep up with the quickly changing world of new protocols and updated documentation.
If you want to contribute, please join the community on CodePlex and start giving us feedback.
For historic background, Network Monitor 3 was a complete re-write of the Network Monitor program that previously shipped in Windows Server and SMS.
One of the major design changes is that the parsers - code that describes how network packets are decoded - are written in a custom language and included with the product.
Most industry protocol analyzers include parsers as static compiled code, or DLLs, which make them harder to update and maintain. By contrast, because the Netmon parsers are run within our execution environment, they can provide a layer of protection against overruns and therefore help protect the user from poorly written code which can expose security vulnerabilities.
At the same time that Network Monitor 3 was being developed in 2004, the product teams were in the process of creating the documents for the Microsoft Open Protocols.
So, at that point, we were able to partner with our document writers and get parsers written for these open protocol specifications for Windows. Not only did this help us verify the documentation, but it also provides a strong base of parsers for Network Monitor that makes troubleshooting network traffic very transparent.
For the latest version of Network Monitor, visit our download page.
For more information and tips on using Network Monitor go to our blog.
Thanks and enjoy!
by anandeep on November 07, 2008 10:54am
Whenever people get to know that I work in the Open Source Lab at Microsoft, there are a few knee jerk questions they always have. The most common one is: "Microsoft has an Open Source Lab?", while another question often asked is: "So when is Microsoft actually going to be part of an Open Source project and actually participate?"
This question does not, of course, refer to our Codeplex projects, which are aplenty and Open Source, but rather about participating in an ongoing project that is not under Microsoft's umbrella. Something that organizations with strong Open Source credentials are behind: Mozilla, Perl, Linux, Apache, Samba, PHP, Eclipse ... you know, the usual suspects.
Fundamentally, as a developer, the answer I (truthfully!) gave: that we worked with all those communities and had actually done some important work with them, was not soul satisfying. You know as developers that one needs to jump in with both feet and actually stand up and be counted as being part of a project.
Given the kind of work we had been doing in changing realities both at Microsoft and in Open Source communities, I knew that it was just a matter of time before that happened. (My colleague Hank Janssen hates the word perception, and I would have used it here just to aggravate him, but that would not capture what I wanted to say. Darn!).
Well, that day is arrived - and I am excited beyond words to say that we (as Microsoft) will be participating in the Apache QPID project. This was announced by Sam Ramji today during his keynote address at the Apache Conference in New Orleans.
Apache QPID is middleware for message passing and is based on the AMQP standard. I will be the point person for our lab's participation in Apache QPID. Actually I should say "what used to be our lab" and which now has truly become the Open Source Technology Center at Microsoft.
In a previous life, I was with a small start up that did secure Web Services management. This was when the SOAP protocol sent unreliable, in-the-clear over the wire messages, and what we did was make SOAP a secure, guaranteed once and once only protocol between two Web Services end points without requiring any changes to web or application servers. That gave me some understanding of the complexities of message passing. Add the complexity of time constrained responses, huge volumes of data and interoperability between disparate systems and the technical problem becomes real juicy!
I often used to wonder why there weren't more successful Open Source messaging systems, since the primary message passing systems in use were proprietary and weren't built for interoperability. Imagine my surprise and joy when Tom Hanrahan (da boss) told me that Microsoft was joining AMQP and was considering participating in the Apache QPID project. I jumped on the opportunity to be involved with the project.
I want to reiterate that we will follow Open Source principles in being part of the Apache QPID project, and not antagonize people through typical big company execution. This means the following things to me:
This all means that we will be slower of the mark than we would, say in one of our internal projects - but we would like to get it right.
For now I am going to download QPID and run it in the lab. Look, listen and linger in the forums, read the documentation, run the test suites, play around with APIs and learn how the joint runs (so to speak).
Looking forward to seeing you all there.
by Peter Galli on November 10, 2008 04:55pm
Microsoft and Sun Microsystems have signed a search distribution deal under which the MSN Toolbar, which is powered by Microsoft Live Search, will be available to U.S.-based Internet Explorer users when they download the Java Runtime Environment.
The agreement, which is effective today, means that Internet Explorer users downloading Sun's JRE will have the option of downloading the MSN Toolbar, giving them one-click access to Live Search and direct access to Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger.
Java is already found on 91 percent of Internet-connected PCs worldwide, while the Java Runtime Environment is one of the highest-volume consumer downloads on the Web. There are also some 6.5 million Java software developers and more than 800 million Java desktop users across the globe.
Given the enormous diversity of Java-based Web applications that are downloaded every month, the deal should help drive exposure to, and usage of, Live Search.
It is also being reported today that Google has dropped StarOffice from its Google Pack of free software, though this has not been confirmed by the company as yet. But this makes sense since Google probably wants people to use its own free online office suite.
by Peter Galli on November 18, 2008 10:16pm
It is two years this month since Microsoft and Novell struck their ground-breaking technical collaboration agreement, a move that has effectively ensured greater interoperability between Windows Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
This technical collaboration has already resulted in a number of milestones, including two new offerings announced today: the availability in the first half of 2009 of an Advanced Management Pack for SUSE Linux Enterprise for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, and a free beta download of Novell's Moonlight, a rich media application.
Some analysts, vendors and enterprises have said the company that develops effective cross-platform management tools will have an advantage and strategic differentiator over its competitors who do not. Microsoft is already doing that.
The Microsoft Operations Manger 2007 Cross Platform Extensions enable the assessment and management of Windows and Linux servers from a single, unified console, eliminating the costs and complexities of having multiple management consoles. The Advanced Management Pack extends this Linux monitoring capability.
Also, given the current tough economic environment, this solution helps reduce training costs since staff only need to be trained on one management tool for both Windows and Linux environments.
Attendees at the Microsoft TechEd EMEA conference in Barcelona earlier this month got to see a technical preview of the Advanced Management Pack, whose release will coincide with that of Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2.
A beta of Novell's Moonlight, an open source implementation of Microsoft Silverlight, will also be released going forward as an open source plug-in for the Firefox web browser. Moonlight brings Linux-based users the same high-definition media capabilities currently available for the Windows and Apple environments.
So, expect to see a lot more solutions in the next year that promote interoperability and help ease customer pain-points across their heterogeneous environments.
by Bryan Kirschner on November 24, 2008 02:47pm
I was recently at Harvard for two events. The first, which I'll talk about in this blog, was part of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard lunch series.
Mario Madden and I were invited to speak at a session called "Microsoft and Open Source: Opportunity or Threat?" You can watch the whole thing online at the link - and David Weinberger liveblogged as well.
The focus of the whole thing was, to quote Karim Lakhani, our host, a "vigorous discussion." So we had about 15 minutes to give an up-front presentation about our thoughts on the "opportunity or threat" issue.
The rest of the time was open discussion. So I do recommend checking out the webcast-it's tough to do the discussion justice second hand. I will call out a couple things that won't show up in the recording.
First, Harvard really is an important source of expertise on open source. There's a whole bunch of research that's certainly been valuable to me (on developer and corporate motivations, for example). There are also people like Margo Seltzer (the former CTO of Sleepycat) who I got to meet at the second event, which I'll talk about in my next blog.
Second, the whole OSS Lab at Microsoft community has emphasized the importance of dialogue for as long as we've been around. This event drove that home once again. Some folks followed up verbally or in mail to semi-apologize for it being a bit of a challenging environment for us.
But I didn't think it was challenging: if a question is difficult to answer because someone is working hard at making it difficult for me to answer, I'm not too keen on that. But if a question is difficult to answer because the answer is something we haven't thought about (and maybe should) or it's just a tough problem...if the questioner is willing to help me be smarter about figuring out a good answer, well, bring it on, as they say.
David Weinberger actually raised a point like this when we talked about Microsoft-released projects and contributions(from his blog):
Q: [David] Are 500 contributions a lot? Compared to the number of patents? Products? A: [Bryan] We'll measure success when every product group considers open source. Q: [Karim] IBM says they have 1,000 developers working on Linux, etc. Do you have any number you can point to that's similar? A: No.
I added we don't have a KLOC or person hours target...should we?
Third, just for the record, here, I said think open source and Microsoft represents a mutual opportunity (...check out the podcast for all the reasons why.) But that brings me to the one thing that most sticks in my mind. A CS professor who attended told us she waited until the recording was finished because she didn't want to be rude-but that to her, we were talking about our open source strategy as if it was something new and innovative.
But from her perspective, she said she's been doing software development a long time, and this sounds just like what Microsoft did in the late 1980's, when being open to developers is what made early Microsoft products interesting to her as a developer. So (to paraphrase): not to be rude, but why do you think this is cool?
This was funny because (as I replied) I absolutely agree with her. Our open source strategy took a lot of learning about how open source has changed the landscape, and what it has brought that's new and different, but the fundamental principle remains the same: openness to third-party developers is a powerful and enduring principle.
And it is part of Microsoft's DNA, as we sometimes say ("...the engineering relationship is getting back to the way it used to be in 1994-1997, which is a great relief to us," [Jeremy] Allison, said recently about Samba and Microsoft).
At one time, Microsoft was perceived to be a leader in openness through free SDKs and extensive APIs, active developer communities, published object models (wow, now you can call the Excel object model from the Powershell scripting language...) , and more.
For a number of (in my opinion) remediable reasons, from the time open source started to capture the popular imagination till today, Microsoft has not been perceived as a leader. But I don't see any reason why we can't reach the point where the best things Microsoft has brought to users and developers and the best things open source has brought to users and developers will be decidedly better together. I think there are some arguable examples already (XNA is high on my list: traditional coding contests plus easy paths to write and sell games, plus a growing open source community).
The other event at Harvard was a business focused Open Source CEO Summit...which I'll talk about in my next blog.
by Peter Galli on December 03, 2008 03:05am
The work to promote interoperability between different document format implementations is yielding some concrete results.
A number of new technology solutions were announced in Brussels on December 3 by the Document Interoperability Initiative (DII), which was launched in March of this year, and where industry leaders and representatives from vendors around the world gather for technical discussions and labs to identify, test and develop solutions to overcome document interoperability barriers.
The solutions - which will improve the installation, performance and stability of translated documents - include the Open XML Document Viewer, which translates Open XML documents to an HTML Web page and allows readability on Web friendly browsers like Firefox. You can watch this video demonstration of the Open XML Document Viewer, while the CTP is available here.
Other new solutions include the Open XML/ODF Translators Version 2.5, a document translator that improves translations between different formats through optimized templates, and which will be made available as an add-in for Microsoft Office 2003, 2007 and XP. You can watch the video demonstration here.
The Apache POI Java SDK for Open XML gives customers and independent software developers greater choice as they create and use business applications that manipulate business documents and which are built on Java.
As transparency and co-operation are vital for initiatives like this to succeed, it's important to note that the DII's goals are to increase interoperability between document format implementations across a range of formats, applications, platforms and devices, and that the initiative is open to any vendor who wants to collaborate with the community to identify and address interoperability issues between different implementations of document formats.
We believe that the industry has a responsibility to come together to address the interoperability interests of users as well as effective data exchange between widely-deployed document format implementations, and so the development of these technical tools, which is due to the open and constructive industry dialogue at DII, is gratifying. This work also underscores the progress being made as the global IT community continues to work together on developing real-world interoperability solutions.