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by Sam Ramji on July 25, 2008 06:16am
I’m writing this from Portland, Oregon where one of the world’s largest Open Source conferences is taking place: OSCON. This year’s event is focused on a theme of “ten years of open source,” referring to 1998 as the year that Eric S. Raymond, Danese Cooper, et al coined the term. The Day 1 keynote theme was the past, Day 2’s theme was the present, and Day 3 (today) is focused on the future.
In my keynote address this morning I’m announcing three areas of contribution:
PHP on IIS + SQL: Microsoft is contributing a patch to ADOdb, a popular data access layer for PHP used by many applications. The patch enables support for SQL Server through the new “native driver for PHP” built by the SQL Server team. ADOdb is licensed under the LGPL and BSD. This is our first code contribution to PHP community projects but will not be the last.
We have tested over 100 community PHP applications and found them to run on IIS with no changes required. Hank Janssen and Garrett Serack of the Open Source Software Lab at Microsoft have been championing this work from the beginning, and I thank them for it.
Open Specification Promise: Microsoft is putting a wide range of protocols that were formerly in the Communications Protocol Program under the Open Specification Promise (OSP). This guarantees their freedom from any patent claims from Microsoft now or in the future, and includes both Microsoft-developed and industry-developed protocols.
We have established a clarification to the OSP that guarantees developer rights to build software of any kind and for any purpose using these specifications, including commercial use.
I am grateful to Andy Oliver, the creator and maintainer of Apache POI, for contacting me back in June with a hope that Microsoft could supply the necessary rights for POI. These include: rights for Office Binary document formats; Open XML; and the right to intentionally subset, have partial implementations, or defects in implementation of these specification. Andy offered his thoughts here.
Apache Software Foundation: Microsoft is becoming a sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). This sponsorship will enable the ASF to pay administrators and other support staff so that ASF developers can focus on writing great software.
Jim Jagielski, Chairman of the ASF, had this to say about the sponsorship:
"We thank Microsoft for their generous sponsorship that goes towards supporting The Apache Software Foundation and the over 60 top level projects in use and development within the ASF," said ASF Chairman Jim Jagielski. "The ASF Sponsorship program is an excellent way for companies and organizations to show their commitment and enthusiasm towards the ASF and The Apache Way, and helps to ensure that highly innovative, freely-available and community-based/consensus-developed software can continue to flourish and thrive within one of the most successful and respected communities in Open Source. Microsoft's sponsorship makes it clear that Microsoft 'gets it' regarding the ASF."
It’s critical to understand two things about our sponsorship of the ASF: what it is, and what it is not.
It is not a move away from IIS as Microsoft’s strategic web server technology. We have invested significantly in refactoring and adding new, state-of-the-art features to IIS, including support for PHP. We will continue to invest in IIS for the long term and are currently under way with development of IIS 8.
It is a strong endorsement of The Apache Way, and opens a new chapter in our relationship with the ASF. We have worked with Apache POI, Apache Axis2, Jakarta, and other projects in the last year, and we will continue our technical support and interoperability testing work for this open source software.
I offer my personal thanks in the learning process that has led to today’s announcements to Allison Randall, Jeremy Allison, Andrew Tridgell, Mike Schroepfer, Andi Gutmans, Wez Furlong, Andy Oliver, Jim Jagielski, Brian Behlendorf, Cliff Schmidt, Sally Khudairi, Gianugo Rabellino, and Justin Erenkrantz.
by Richard Wilder on July 25, 2008 06:15am
I am the Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property Policy at Microsoft, having joined the company about 9 months ago. My role is to work with a variety of constituencies inside the company and outside to help shape the approach we take to intellectual property. I am new to the company and cannot take credit for it, but am very pleased that in recent years, Microsoft has made progress in participating with open source communities. A part of that has been the implementation of the Open Specification Promise (OSP), which was launched in 2006. We think it is a simple and clear way to assure that the broadest audience of developers and customers working with commercial or open source software can implement specifications. We constantly listen to feedback from community representatives and respond to that feedback – through Q&A’s on the OSP page and directly to the community. Andy Oliver made some positive comments in this regard as recently as yesterday. When asked for clarification of the OSP with respect to the activities of Apache POI, we responded. The concerns were about implementations of specifications covered by the OSP that may be less than fully compliant – in particular due to implementation bugs. Such a situation is not explicitly covered by the OSP since it is meant to apply to a wide range of technologies and development models and it is simply not possible to address all specific situations in which it would apply. We addressed this situation in the following manner – and I apologize if the explanation is a bit technical, but I will try to avoid too much legal jargon.
The OSP says that it covers "any implementation to the extent it conforms to a Covered Specification" which addresses the heart of the conformance issue that was raised." To the extent it conforms" means that we do not require an implementation to be perfect; this can be because of implementation bugs or an intentional choice because the requirements of the particular implementation do not actually require full conformance. Under the OSP, implementations can be less than fully compliant. For example, a given implementation that takes a spreadsheet document, extracts information from it, and stores that information in a relational database might not comply with every required part of the spreadsheet document format but such an implementation would still be covered by the OSP. By way of comparison, other promises in the industry may require complete conformance for the promise to apply, and those normally require full compliance as a condition (see IBM's Interoperability Specifications Pledge). Some others make no statement about the subject at all, leaving it an open question as to whether full compliance is required. At Microsoft, we felt that unless we indicated that the OSP is more flexible, some might conservatively assume that complete compliance is required, so we included the “extent it conforms” language in the OSP. We chose to state explicitly that partially conformant implementations are covered, to the extent they are conformant in their individual implementation aspects.
As a result of this clarification, developers can have peace of mind that the specifications covered by the OSP, are, in fact, openly available without ambiguity. This is the kind of conversation and cooperation that marks our intentions with the open source community, and I look forward to continuing this dialogue into the future.
by Bryan Kirschner on July 23, 2008 04:39pm
Now that we’ve had our first “participate” event in conjunction with OSCON here in Portland, I wanted to share a few thoughts. This was a great experience and a great event—or, really, two consecutive events, the morning case study discussion and the afternoon panel.
First I’ll talk about the case study and then build on comments from some folks who’ve “beaten me to the blog.” In the morning Karim Lakhani from Harvard led the group through a case study about a fast-growing company (Threadless t-shirts) built on community contribution and distributed innovation. This was basically like being in a Harvard Business School class with a bunch of super achievers, complete with questions and counter questions (John Wilbanks from Science Commons blogs about it here). Stepping back and taking a look at a whole bunch of concepts and practices that underlie open source in the software domain in another context (t-shirt design), IMO, really opened the floodgates on discussion—a discussion Karim (with regret) had to close as the buzz in the room kept right on going well over time and into lunch…
In the afternoon I was part of a panel discussion and Q and A that started back in the software domain specifically. The one thing I would definitely do differently is to couple the morning case study and the later panel discussion more tightly. Not everyone who could be part of one was part of the other this year, and the real “ah ha’s” for me came from being a part of both. Here’s what I took away overall.
I introduced the morning session by noting that we’re at the ten-year mark since the folks who founded the Open Source Initiative (OSI) rallied around the term “open source.” At last year’s OSCON, Bill Hilf announced we had launched http://Microsoft.com/opensource , our first public, official, company-wide statement of policy and strategy on OSS. So (I said): “If you look at that span of time from 1998 to 2007, no one can accuse us of being precipitous, and no one can flatter us for being first adopters.” But there’s a benefit to being slow: other people don’t stand still stuff. That includes folks like Karim and another professor on our panel, Siobhan O’Mahony, doing research. I can’t emphasize enough the contributions their work and that of many others of their peers made to our first step in informing and building acceptance of that step into participation in 2007. We read it all.
And this is where I’ll offer a different perspective than Zack—in his blog he said he felt the afternoon session (on which I really appreciated his participation and contributions) he felt a bit like “it was outside looking in” on open source and “academic.” With regard to the first point, one of my goals for next year is definitely to figure out how we integrate the “inside look out” (at another domain) like we did in the morning. With regard to the latter, here’s the interesting thing to me: “academic” can be pejorative when it means “divorced from any substantive decision-making”—that is, you’re just studying for the sake of studying. And I can where Zack is coming from: MySQL is one of the oldest OSS-based businesses. Zack was quite clear he knows how they manage their dev process and a bunch of other things. Unlike the folks at Threadless and perhaps many younger OSS-based companies, Zack and MySQL’s leadership team don’t even have to wonder about what to do if they are offered a big contract or billion-dollar buy out from a big established vendor…they’ve been there, done that. I respect that.
But if like Zack (and Matt Asay, who couldn’t be at partcipate08…Matt, I’ve read your blogs for years, you’re a thoughtful guy, I would bet money you couldn’t help but love the morning session…save a date for 09!) you are encouraging Microsoft to make more code (or whole products) open source: on the Microsoft side “academic” insights are highly relevant and actionable. Siobhan almost literally wrote the book on how established companies work with foundations and communities. Karim’s understanding of distributed innovation spans from the early days of OSS’ popularity through Wikipedia and beyond (we learned on Monday that there is a vibrant online user innovation community around custom granola recipes…).
Their research and practitioners like Allison (and others) abstracting out how what-worked-in-her-experience might apply to another technology or audience are directly relevant to diverse Microsoft teams figuring out how to “go open” in ways that are sustainable because they engage a community and make business sense—there are some great examples (here and here and here). But if there’s one qualification for being the first person in the history of the universe with the title of “Director of Open Source Strategy at Microsoft” (…thanks Bill and Sam…) it is this: the humility to understand it would be foolish to try to figure out how to expand this list company-wide on our own, without learning from everyone who has gone before.
So here is the real a-ha for me: John Wilbanks’ job is a lot harder than mine. He is approaching the Science Commons domain with a far less robust body of knowledge and shared understanding across communities than we have in OSS. Some of that may be ten years of “open source” versus a shorter timeframe for applying these concepts to science—but what I tried to articulate at the end of the panel was this: I believe “open source” has achieved a fascinating and valuable thing. It has achieved a balance as an construct which is not just a reductive, narrow focus on source code licensing (which is a component) nor a vague, fuzzy, wishy-washy platitude or marketing slogan (which is a risk and something I know the OSI worries about). It has enough cohesion, flexibility, and surface tension to be something you can study scientifically and discuss with a shared understanding of how it relates to software or t-shirts or science, and have an intuitive “know-good-practices-when-you-see-them” dimension.
I think the OSI and other leaders in open source contributed to this by striving to maintain fidelity to a core set of values while being flexible rather than doctrinaire. And here at OSCON this strikes me: last year at OSCON 2007 Bill Hilf also announced we were submitting two Microsoft Shared Source licenses to the OSI for approval. This was a milestone I see as not just instrumentally useful to provide clarity to users of these licenses; I see it as fitting as a matter of respect and recognition. And this year we took another step forward with participate08 here at Tim O’Reilly and Allison Randal’s OSCON 2008. I see this as fitting not just instrumentally as a matter of convenience (--lots of the right people happen to be here--) but as a matter of respect and recognition. I hope to be back for participate09.
I am going to close this blog entry on that thought but for one picture that really is worth a thousand words. Once we get the notes and the whiteboard photos assembled I’ll share more about the discussion, but this image will stick with me a theme for why so many folks did come to think hard and contribute as a part of participate08—and why I am grateful they did:
(photo by James Duncan Davidson/O'Reilly Media)
by Bryan Kirschner on July 18, 2008 01:09pm
On July 21 I will have the honor and pleasure of being the sponsor, host, and an active participant in participate08. participate08 is a one-day summit held in coordination with the O'Reilly Open Source Conference(OSCON). It is designed to facilitate dialogue about open source and other collaborative communities and help explore opportunities for greater participation in the design, development, and deployment of software in the modern IT environment.
The reasons I think it is cool are mostly personal as well as professional. The work of Harvard’s Karim Lakhani (our facilitator in the morning and moderator in the afternoon) has been one of the biggest influences on my perspective on free and open source software (...that’s kind of a pun…). I haven’t been familiar with panelist Siobhan O’Mahony’s work quite as long, but she is one of, if not “the” leading researcher on how firms work with open source communities. Her work quite literally helps me figure out how to do my job. Panelist John Wilbanks runs the Science Commons project at Creative Commons, an endeavor I think has a good solid foundation in elements of brilliance. Speaking of which, Zack Urlocker is a super smart guy. And Allison Randal has her own standing tagline with me as “one of the most thoughtful people in FOSS.”
Sometimes we have to focus on what I’ll call day-to-day issues: like what if a Microsoft team releases an application under an open source license (the Ms-PL) without making the source code available? (The answer is: the team, whose disconnect with our policy was 100% accidental and unintended—stepped up to strongly affirm their commitment to OSS best practices and voluntarily released it with source code, to their great credit.) These are important. Most of the time (as in this case) things turn out positively. But participate08 is focused on the big picture, or macro level issues—the future of distributed innovation in software and beyond; being a part of that sort of discussion with folks like our panelists is just mind-blowingly cool.
In the morning, we’ll be holding a small group, facilitated “executive session”—in the afternoon, the panel will star in an open session where we hope to have a great dialogue among the panel—and with the audience. If you will be at OSCON I hope you’ll join us in E145 at 1:30 PM!
by jcannon on July 16, 2008 09:59pm
Our community knows that open source businesses are important to Microsoft. Nothing demonstrates this better than the fact that open source was a key theme in the recent Windows Server 2008 Launch. You can read more about that here.
One of the individuals we highlighted was Steve Bjorg, Founder and CTO at Mindtouch. Mindtouch develops an open source collaboration platform. Today, I'm excited to have Robert Mason, Mindtouch Platform Engineer, update us on the progress Mindtouch has made in delivering a first class open source experience on Windows. Take it away Bob....
This demo video goes through a lot of information quickly. It shows the basics of collaboration in MindTouch Deki and then demonstrates a mashup with a Microsoft Silverlight charting package. NOTE: With MindTouch Deki creating mashups, dynamic reports and dashboards does not require programming ability.
Hello! It’s great to be asked to guest blog here at Port 25. Last you had heard from us, we had written about MindTouch Deki from the start being written in C#, but running solely on Mono inside of a Linux environment. Well, that’s all about to change… I’m happy announce that for the first time, MindTouch is releasing an official Windows-based beta version of MindTouch Deki. Specifically, you may now install using a MindTouch-created Microsoft Windows MSI!
Although this is a beta release, the MindTouch team has worked hard to include all major features and functionality currently available to Deki users on Linux-based operating systems. Please report any problems or issues that you may discover either at our forums or by filing a bug. This new MindTouch Deki MSI beta supports IIS 7 on Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft Vista only. However, the final release of the MSI will also support IIS 6 on Microsoft Windows Server 2003. Download the MindTouch Deki MSI today. We're very excited to at last be offering support for Microsoft IIS 6 and 7 on Vista, Windows Server 2003, and 2008. MindTouch Deki has enjoyed a groundswell of adoption with daily downloads in the thousands; by (finally) introducing an easy and officially supported means of installing on Windows Server and Windows Vista we are expecting great things! Now, Systems Integrators and .NET developers can return to their existing customer base (and find new customers) to deliver more value by "adding the 2.0" to the enterprise infrastructure in the form of a collaborative surface atop the existing infrastructure that they've already deployed. Write MindTouch for more information about our web-oriented architecture or for a high level explanation read about our technologies at the website. Finally, expect to see more Microsoft-related updates from MindTouch in the coming months… Subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter at www.MindTouch.com to stay up to date on new Microsoft related products and offerings.
Thanks, Bob Mason
by Sam Ramji on July 02, 2008 10:00am
I am very pleased to announce that the Microsoft SandCastle project team has reconfirmed its strong support for the Ms-PL and is preparing to release all source code for the Sandcastle project immediately. This was a non-trivial effort and I applaud them for it. I think these actions demonstrate Microsoft’s desire to abide by the OSI’s Open Source Definition with regard to source code when releasing open source projects on CodePlex. The project itself is a valuable one, and I received many comments and emails about this.
Some people felt it was draconian to pull the project from CodePlex, others thought that didn’t go far enough; some were upset because they loved the project and couldn’t find it; some thought we were holding ourselves to a higher standard than necessary. I believe that as we continue to build our practices across the company to participate in open source development, we must strive to achieve the highest possible standards.
This has also called our attention to our governance and processes on Open Source. Scott Stein (Director of Open Source Programs) led an exhaustive effort across our code hosting properties, with great support from Jim Newkirk, Jonathan Wanagel, and Sara Ford of the Codeplex team as well as Steven Wilssens of Code Gallery, and found other cases where Microsoft-led projects had been licensed under the Ms-PL but hadn’t shared the source. These have also been unpublished and will go through the same review process. What we’re finding is that the positive intent and excitement underneath sharing source code is something that exists in teams across Microsoft, and that we have a great opportunity to help more teams build their skills in following Open Source best practices.
So congratulations to Anand Raman and the SandCastle team for responding gracefully to the situation and coming through with flying colors!