by Bryan Kirschner on February 05, 2008 07:32pm

“…Our goal here is to evolve and to hopefully provide information that makes it easier for people using OSS and Microsoft software in the real world.” Bill Hilf wrote this in an April 2006 blog entitled “Who Would Have Guessed?” just one week after Port25 launched. Although in hindsight it seems obvious Port25 was a good idea, back then there was a lot of guessing and finger-crossing, because Port25 wasn’t about Bill or Sam participating in a dialogue as individuals—something they did and continue to do all the time. This was about Microsoft as a company opening up for two-way participation in a new domain.

This domain has proven to be even broader than people using open source and Microsoft software—it includes people holding varied dispositions across technical, business and legal perspectives, in both camps. There are people interested in very specific technical issues and some in broader industry trends and themes. Posts with high readership, many trackbacks, lots of comments (or some combination of the above) include, for example, some how-to and systems administration focused (Kishi on systems configuration), some about new bits you can use (Hank on Windows media player for Firefox) and some about big news (John Rosenberg on the approval of two Shared Source licensed by the OSI).

Comments on two recent postsHow Did It Start for You? and New Horizons really crystallized for me the diversity of the Port25 community—inside and outside Microsoft. The Port25 community defies reductive classification as “a Microsoft guy (or gal)” or “an open source gal (or guy)”—or as “a developer” or “an end-user.” Folks wear multiple hats and have diverse experiences and interests. So Port25 is evolving to reflect and support that diversity.

Port25 will continue to be the home of the Open Source Software Lab at Microsoft. And technical content will continue to make “it easier for people using OSS and Microsoft software in the real world”. But the redesign you’re looking at will make it easier to browse and search a larger and more diverse body of content efficiently: are you looking for downloads, developer-focused content, or in browsing content of general interest to the “community?”

One big reason for making these sorts of changes is the steadily increasing number and scope of people , technologies , activities , and downloads across Microsoft and around the world that are relevant to Microsoft and open source growing together (to use a phrase you’ve heard before on Port25). We want these to be readily discoverable for every member of the Port25 community who might have an interest in them—whether because you find something to be problematic (--constructive feedback is important!), inspirational, or useful. And above all, the biggest reason is something we have all experienced over the life of Port25: the vitality and two-way dialogue of Port25 continues to foster to more awareness, connections, participation and change within Microsoft and in the broader ecosystem.

Referring to one such manifestation of change, Sam titled a blog “If you’re surprised you’re not paying attention.” The evolution of Port25 will make it easier for you to pay attention to what matters to you.