I presented at London Geek Night a few days ago about the contributions that Microsoft made to the open-source community in 2009. My presentation was titled,
“Hell Froze over, Pigs flew, Microsoft Went Open” Hell Froze Over, Pigs Flew, Microsoft Went Open View more presentations from ukdpe.
“Hell Froze over, Pigs flew, Microsoft Went Open”
This was my first time to London Geek Night hosted by Thoughworks UK Ltd. I was expecting a presentation heavy event similar to Oxford Geek Night but quickly realized that this event was a deeper engagement with the attendees. Many of the developers worked in software consultancies and came prepared to talk about interesting challenges and code used to address problems. I felt a little out of place as I was the only person who wasn’t talking about code, however, what was supposed to be a 5-min lightning talk for me on the subject of Microsoft and open-source turned in to a 45 minute dialogue between skeptics and the uninformed. There was sincere interest regarding our contributions and our perception as a company.
I had attendees question Microsoft’s motives, dissect our business model, understand our engineering practices, and in each of those conversations, the group was left with a very positive view of what Microsoft stands for. During what of the debates regarding commercial vs. OSS revenue models, I even had an developer stand up for me when it came to the question of paying for software. He stated, “But actually, he is on to something, I like to make money, and it is important to recognize that software does in fact have value. That is why I do what I do.” That was cool!
The biggest value I gained from the event was meeting some good connections in the open-source community. They have agreed to inform me of other cool events and groups where my message would be receptive. One really cool guy I met was an architect for The Guardian, Paul Nasrat who also happens to be one of the organizers of ScaleCamp UK (we’re sponsoring food!). We took jabs at each other regarding the failures of our respective communities over beer, great guy, and well connected. A key insight I gained when speaking with him was that his community is desperately seeking .NET devs, but all the events they run, the attendees tend to have a Java background or OSS background.
The reason I even brought up London Geek Night was because of the enthusiasm about Ruby on Rails! Simon Davies, who works in Microsoft’s Technology Center UK, wrote an awesome post about getting Windows Azure to run Ruby on Rails applications!
What this means is that all those developers who were having problems around scaling their Rails apps don’t have to worry about it if they use Windows Azure as their cloud provider! If you haven’t seen the trend yet, Microsoft welcomes all to the “cloud”.