by admin on March 28, 2006 06:00pm


Roblimo from Slashdot warned me.

Last Fall, I did an interview on Slashdot and put my email address at the end of the interview, following the statement that if “If you'd like to contact me directly, I can be reached at billhilf at microsoft dot com”  Roblimo told me that I might want to rethink including my email address, and suggested possibly a link to a Web page as a way to redirect possible spambots and general bedlam.

I didn’t get the spam (or the Microsoft Exchange spam filters are really good) but I did get some feedback.  Approximately two thousand emails of feedback.  The interview posted a few days before I presented at Linux World San Francisco, which meant I was getting most of the email while I was on the road and preparing to discuss Interoperability and the Open Source Software labs I run here in Redmond.  Although it was somewhat of a deluge of email, the feedback was extremely valuable (thank you to all of you who wrote to me) and really helped me realize the importance of this subject.
Tim O’Reilly has talked about the importance of architectures for participation.  The value of building an architecture to allow participation was never more clear than reading (and responding!) to thousands of these emails.  Now you may be reading this saying “Amazing, it took this guy how long to learn about blogs?” and that’s a fair criticism, and Jason Matusow and Robert Scoble have been telling me to do this for a long while now.  But hopefully by the time you finish reading through this site, you’ll understand why Port 25 is somewhat more than just a place to blog.

So why is it called Port 25?  Some background on port numbers first.  SMTP is short for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and is the protocol for sending email messages between servers or from a mail client to a mail server.  On a server, the port for SMTP is 25.  When you open a port on a server, such as to allow for SMTP traffic, it is commonly referred to as ‘listening’ on the port.  Port 25, therefore, is a metaphor for how we are opening the communication lines to for a discussion around Open Source Software and Microsoft.  Cute, huh?
As someone who has many hours at the command line, debugging things such as protocol states (LISTENING?) and getting software and servers working to provide some type of service, the concept of server ports and being open is well engrained in how I and the team here in our lab think about communications – so we thought it was applicable to how we want to start the dialogue around this subject.  I guess it just took a Slashdot interview and a couple thousand emails (and consistent nudging from friends) to really drive the point home that having a participative discussion around OSS and Microsoft technologies is a good thing, not –as many people may believe- something we want to ‘hide’ or shy away from.

What will you find here?  This will be the place we not only blog, but also where we put analysis from our OSS labs and also where we discuss and show other parts of Microsoft that we think are just plain cool or interesting.  I think what you’ll see here over time is how a bunch of open source guys inside Microsoft think, as well as people and technologies inside Redmond that we think other folks like us would find interesting as well.
So, there will be much more to discuss, debate and learn from together – but for now, port 25 is open.