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Microsoft Shows Linux the Love

Posted by iNext - 2006-04-08

With a high-profile executive speech at LinuxWorld and the launch of a new Web site focusing on open source, Microsoft has been cozying up to the Linux penguin this week.
The new Web site is called Port 25, named after the network port on computer systems that regulates e-mail traffic. Through interviews and information, the site highlights the work of the Microsoft Open Source Software Lab.

In his keynote at LinuxWorld, Microsoft's general manager for platform strategy, Bill Hilf, noted that the site is geared toward improving discussion between Microsoft and open-source developers.

Hilf said in his speech that the site, along with other Microsoft initiatives, represents an evolution away from the "myopic thinking that there is only one tool or one model to solve a problem."

Open Wide

Despite its ongoing "Get the Facts" advertising campaign, which positions Microsoft software as superior to Linux, Microsoft does not believe that it has always been on the other side of open source.

"There has been a very positive reaction to our open formats, although there's still perception from some quarters that we're the enemy of open source," said Microsoft general manager Alan Yates in an interview. "That's just not the case."

Yates noted that the recent wrangle in Massachusetts, in which the state was considering moving away from Microsoft's software, raised hackles in Redmond because the company felt it was not given the chance to highlight its own open formats.

"There's a growing awareness about Microsoft's approach to opening formats," he said. "We expect that to continue."

Friendly Overtures

In addition to touting its open formats, Microsoft has indicated in other ways that it wants to play nice with open source. For example, the company announced plans this week to run and support Linux in its Virtual Server product.

Microsoft also plans to deliver software for developers to write programs that run well in rival browsers rather than tying them to Internet Explorer.

These and other moves by the company are a nod toward greater software interoperability, a notion discussed in February by Bill Gates.

"We want to further eliminate friction among heterogeneous architectures and applications without compromising their distinctive underlying capabilities," Gates said in a recent statement.

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