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Bill Hilf: Open Source at Microsoft

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I recently caught up with Microsoft's general manager for competitive strategy, Bill Hilf (you've seen him before on Channel 9), to talk about, what else, open source software and Microsoft's position on it. Sure, we have shared source, etc, but what is Microsoft doing in the open source software space? Why do we have an open source lab, what's going on there, and what was Mozilla doing there recently???

Bill and team have a lot of respect for Channel 9 and created an off-shoot that targets the open source community, called Port 25 (http://port25.technet.com/). What is Port 25 and why? 

We also cover the questions: Why don't we produce open source software at Microsoft? Why don't we not "open source" products like Office?

This is a very frank, honest and fun conversation sans marketing hyperbole, which is why we love talking to Bill!

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  • ChadkChadk excuse me - do you has a flavor?
    Just began watching. Whats up with the sound? The sound quallity seems so much better! I love it Cool
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    Chadk wrote:
    Just began watching. Whats up with the sound? The sound quallity seems so much better! I love it


    The camera I use now has an incredible microphone! This should continue to be the case.
  • And there was much rejoicing
  • ChadkChadk excuse me - do you has a flavor?
    This is cool. Shows why Microsoft is leaders in the software industry.

    And the new camera rules! The sound is so much better
  • Hmm, very enlightening. Especially the vendor donut model comments.

    He really seems to "get" the industry.
  • erikerik_ Whooops!
    Wonderfull video. Thanks, perfect interview!

    The donut model made it very clear. Amazing to think with, if you place the donuts over eachother. Where you see the difference in core assets, but the same comp assets. Where both companies have best interest to make the application best, because it improves them both. Didn't really see it that simple before the model.

    Edit: Why does the apple machine has black bars on the screen? Why isn't it filling the screen?
  • Linux is the operating system of choice for academia. This is because it facilitates easier research due to its in-built automation (eg. scripting) powers, its modular design and the transparency in the ways of configurin it. Windows has, on the other hand, an omnipresent gui and poor automation facilities that make it difficult to contact research procedures that require repetition, such as simulations, under it. In addition Windows cannot be tweaked and its components cannot be changed or replaced for research purposes, not because they are not open source but because Windows has not been designed to be modifiable. It is a whole piece of software which is "take it or leave it". However, this need not have been the case and perhaps it is due to Microsoft's poor design in the first place which should be remedied. Thirdly Windows and application configuration cannot be automated or aultered easily because it is not transparent. On LInux you have configuration files but on Windows there is no transparency on where and how an application or service stores and manages its configuration information. Finally, let's not forget that most scientific applications are written to run on Linux and not onWindows. The reason in my opinion is that most software in academia is free as in beer and most free software is also open source. Such software is mostly written or can be found exclusively for Linux and many times does not run on Windows. Thus, the lack of free or open source development on Windows and the concentration by Microsoft on commercial software keeps academia away from Windows. Microsoft should include by default a Unix/Linux subsystem in Windows to enable the use of the existing vast number of scientific resources and tools found only on Unix/Linux. The current Subsystem for Unix-based Applications is not feature complete.
    What do you think?
  • rjdohnertrjdohnert You will never know success until you know failure
    You forgot to ask him one of the questions that matter. Whats the Linux distribution he uses? Good interview, Bill is a good guy and its good to see him back on C9
  • Xaero_VincentXaero_​Vincent Sexy me
    rjdohnert wrote:
    You forgot to ask him one of the questions that matter. Whats the Linux distribution he uses? Good interview, Bill is a good guy and its good to see him back on C9


    He was using RHEL 4 on his iMactel. I am sort of surprised he wasnt using something newer and better like SLED 10.

    Anyway this video was pretty good. His "donut" theory is spot on at describing the open-source buisness models. Hilf also mentions hybrid licensing that companies like Trolltech use. His position is clearly with Microsoft on which platform to deploy on and its true that most major open-source software runs natively on Windows. For the rest, there is Cygwin and Unix services for Windows.

    I think its important to note that Linux is also a great platform to develop on. Mono brings Microsoft's .NET and C#/VB facilities to Linux; Java is still a good platform to develop with. Not to mention the heaps of other languages to use like C, C++, D, Python, Perl, Pascal, Ruby, RealBaisic, Euphoria, Lisp, etc. Linux is fairly good at running Windows 32 and MS-DOS applications as well. But hopefully someone will devise a way into run Windows .NET applications under Linux/*nix in the future.


    Regards,
    Vincent
  • ChadkChadk excuse me - do you has a flavor?
    Btw. the link to the other video with Bill Hilf points to page 2, you might wanna switch the link out with this:
    http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=65537
  • rjdohnertrjdohnert You will never know success until you know failure
    RHEL is one oif the standards, I was actually suprised he wasnt running Ubuntu or Kubuntu, Kubuntu being the better of the two of course.  BTW I did load SimplyMEPIS 6 on the advice of corona_coder on a test machine and had nothing but problems.  Its  not very elegant, its like two steps back to Kubuntu.

    Xaero_Vincent wrote:
    
    rjdohnert wrote:You forgot to ask him one of the questions that matter. Whats the Linux distribution he uses? Good interview, Bill is a good guy and its good to see him back on C9


    He was using RHEL 4 on his iMactel. I am sort of surprised he wasnt using something newer and better like SLED 10.

    Anyway this video was pretty good. His "donut" theory is spot on at describing the open-source buisness models. Hilf also mentions hybrid licensing that companies like Trolltech use. His position is clearly with Microsoft on which platform to deploy on and its true that most major open-source software runs natively on Windows. For the rest, there is Cygwin and Unix services for Windows.

    I think its important to note that Linux is also a great platform to develop on. Mono brings Microsoft's .NET and C#/VB facilities to Linux; Java is still a good platform to develop with. Not to mention the heaps of other languages to use like C, C++, D, Python, Perl, Pascal, Ruby, RealBaisic, Euphoria, Lisp, etc. Linux is fairly good at running Windows 32 and MS-DOS applications as well. But hopefully someone will devise a way into run Windows .NET applications under Linux/*nix in the future.


    Regards,
    Vincent
  • figuerresfiguerres ???
    nektar wrote:
    Linux is the operating system of choice for academia. This is because it facilitates easier research due to its in-built automation (eg. scripting) powers, its modular design and the transparency in the ways of configurin it. Windows has, on the other hand, an omnipresent gui and poor automation facilities that make it difficult to contact research procedures that require repetition, such as simulations, under it. In addition Windows cannot be tweaked and its components cannot be changed or replaced for research purposes, not because they are not open source but because Windows has not been designed to be modifiable. It is a whole piece of software which is "take it or leave it". However, this need not have been the case and perhaps it is due to Microsoft's poor design in the first place which should be remedied. Thirdly Windows and application configuration cannot be automated or aultered easily because it is not transparent. On LInux you have configuration files but on Windows there is no transparency on where and how an application or service stores and manages its configuration information. Finally, let's not forget that most scientific applications are written to run on Linux and not onWindows. The reason in my opinion is that most software in academia is free as in beer and most free software is also open source. Such software is mostly written or can be found exclusively for Linux and many times does not run on Windows. Thus, the lack of free or open source development on Windows and the concentration by Microsoft on commercial software keeps academia away from Windows. Microsoft should include by default a Unix/Linux subsystem in Windows to enable the use of the existing vast number of scientific resources and tools found only on Unix/Linux. The current Subsystem for Unix-based Applications is not feature complete.
    What do you think?


    What do I think?

    Get a Life; you just want to bait us into reacting to your comments thats what I think.

    you say a lot there that's just wrong and other things that are half true....  you and Darth should get together at a bar... (assuming you are both of legal age to drink) that would be fun.
  • Don't forget w/ Mono you can run .NET on linux
  • Good stuff, like being in IT economy class. Very clear.

    I'm no too thrilled about the microphone though, it picks up a lot of background noise. Perhaps making it directionally sensitive somehow or decoupling it from its fixture could improve this?

     

  • ZippyVZippyV Fired Up
    About that little Windows kernel cd Tongue Out Can individual students buy it or does the cd stay at the university?

    2nd question: Can Microsoft convert their donut model to the Redhat model? What could be the impact of those changes?
  • I would really like to believe that Microsoft is concerned with interoperability. But at the same time, there is no adequate Exchange client that works on Linux, and none planned for 2007 either.

    The only reason that Exchange webmail access is so crippled when using Firefox is because Microsoft is intentionally inhibiting interoperability.
  • William Staceystaceyw Before C# there was darkness...
    Kettal wrote:
    I would really like to believe that Microsoft is concerned with interoperability. But at the same time, there is no adequate Exchange client that works on Linux, and none planned for 2007 either.

    The only reason that Exchange webmail access is so crippled when using Firefox is because Microsoft is intentionally inhibiting interoperability.


    Do you have proof of this?
  • rjdohnertrjdohnert You will never know success until you know failure
    Do you have any hard data to prove this would be more profitable than their current model?

    ZippyV wrote:
    About that little Windows kernel cd Can individual students buy it or does the cd stay at the university?

    2nd question: Can Microsoft convert their donut model to the Redhat model? What could be the impact of those changes?
  • staceyw wrote:
    
    Kettal wrote:I would really like to believe that Microsoft is concerned with interoperability. But at the same time, there is no adequate Exchange client that works on Linux, and none planned for 2007 either.

    The only reason that Exchange webmail access is so crippled when using Firefox is because Microsoft is intentionally inhibiting interoperability.


    Do you have proof of this?


    All of my inquiries to Microsoft staff on this matter have been unsatisfactory.  Firefox is perfectly capable of displaying Premium-mode Exchange Web Access, but the server software, for some reason, refuses to host it to anything but Internet Explorer.
  • Does it have anything to do w/ the lack of ActiveX support or is it just a wild rumor?  I doubt that MS is going to do something like this on purpuse to hurt FF.
    I would love to see more "information" on this
  • mdragonemdragone What's next?
    The OWA Light team recently wrote about this over at the EHLO blog.

    http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2006/09/13/428901.aspx

    Their reasoning for not supporting Firefox in OWA Premium is at the bottom of the article.
  • mdragonemdragone What's next?
    This was a great video. Bill Hilf sounds like a great guy with a good grasp of the industry. Always great to see him on Channel 9.
  • mdragone wrote:
    The OWA Light team recently wrote about this over at the EHLO blog.

    http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2006/09/13/428901.aspx

    Their reasoning for not supporting Firefox in OWA Premium is at the bottom of the article.


    And the answer in that article is a sugar-coated way of saying "we're not that concerned about interoperability. Other messaging servers, developed on a much smaller budget, made rich AJAX clients that work with Firefox perfectly, and they didn't break the bank. Scalix is one example.
  • William Staceystaceyw Before C# there was darkness...
    Kettal wrote:
    
    mdragone wrote: The OWA Light team recently wrote about this over at the EHLO blog.

    http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2006/09/13/428901.aspx

    Their reasoning for not supporting Firefox in OWA Premium is at the bottom of the article.


    And the answer in that article is a sugar-coated way of saying "we're not that concerned about interoperability. Other messaging servers, developed on a much smaller budget, made rich AJAX clients that work with Firefox perfectly, and they didn't break the bank. Scalix is one example.


    If the donut model is correct, then supporting FF only drives more people to Exchange.  There must be a resources issue (i.e. time/other more important issues).  I see it as not a pressing issue as if people really want web access, they can just open up IE.  Not a great solution, but at least gives user an ~easy workaround.
  • staceyw wrote:
    If the donut model is correct, then supporting FF only drives more people to Exchange.  There must be a resources issue (i.e. time/other more important issues).  I see it as not a pressing issue as if people really want web access, they can just open up IE.  Not a great solution, but at least gives user an ~easy workaround.

    You are forgetting that IE is a Windows-only app. Bill Hilf likes to brag about interoperability, but talk is cheap.
  • Kettal wrote:
    You are forgetting that IE is a Windows-only app. Bill Hilf likes to brag about interoperability, but talk is cheap.
    You're not being reasonable at all. By providing OWA Light, Microsoft is providing a base level of interoperability. Granted, it doesn't have feature parity with OWA Premium, but it's a step in the right direction. Saying "they could do it if they really wanted to" without having any knowledge of the team structure, codebase, schedule or budget is simply ignorant. If you read the blog post, they seem open to bringing Premium to Firefox in a future release. As subsequent versions of IE become more standards compliant, the cost of delivering a consistent experience across browsers will shrink. It's OK to be unsatisfied, but trying to draw far out conclusions like that is just weak.

    (Question: Is OWA 2007 built on Atlas? I tried googling a few sets of keywords, but couldn't find a definitive answer. It's relavent to the discussion since I know Atlas provides some abstractions to hide some differences across browsers.)
  • BryanF wrote:
    Saying "they could do it if they really wanted to" without having any knowledge of the team structure, codebase, schedule or budget is simply ignorant. If you read the blog post, they seem open to bringing Premium to Firefox in a future release. As subsequent versions of IE become more standards compliant, the cost of delivering a consistent experience across browsers will shrink. It's OK to be unsatisfied, but trying to draw far out conclusions like that is just weak.


    Perhaps you are right. But as an end user, I couldn't care how backwards their team structure or codebase is, I am just concerned that the end product underdelivers.

    I find it unsatisfactory that a company with the market share and resources of Microsoft can use budget as an excuse to cut features while their competitors can pull it off at pennies to the dollar.

    Just look at IE, they're still struggling after all these years to make it standards compliant, and meanwhile Opera pulled it off with negligible resources in an incredibly short time. I can't possibly understand how this is excusable.

    I guess it appears I'm on a Microsoft bashing rant here, but the point I'm trying to make is that budget/time constraints are a lame excuse to neglect interoperability. Most especially when Hilf and the PR department are trying to put on the compassionate face.
  • Kettal wrote:
    
    mdragone wrote: The OWA Light team recently wrote about this over at the EHLO blog.

    http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2006/09/13/428901.aspx

    Their reasoning for not supporting Firefox in OWA Premium is at the bottom of the article.



    And the answer in that article is a sugar-coated way of saying "we're not that concerned about interoperability. Other messaging servers, developed on a much smaller budget, made rich AJAX clients that work with Firefox perfectly, and they didn't break the bank. Scalix is one example.



    You need to take off the tin foil hat. The reason it's not supported in previous versions is undoubetedly because Firefox was still in beta whilst they were producing it for Exchange 2003. They obviously targetted IE not bothering with the useless Mozilla which was a wise choice.

    As for 2007:

    Operating Systems: Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Window ME, Windows 98, Mac OS X, and Linux

    Browsers: Firefox, Safari, Opera, Netscape, IE7, IE6, IE5.5, IE5.01 and IE5.2 on Mac

    And Firefox does not render OWA (2003) properly if you switch your User Agent, so the problem is obviously more profound than the Exchange team adding Firefox to their User Agent lookup list, the display code is using some IE specific javascript.

    Speaking of Firefox, this textbox doesn't work in Firefox, and also the MSDN subscribers site doesn't work either. No excuses there!

  • corona_codercorona_coder Only Proprietary software vendors deal in absolutes.
    The point is that OWA and and even Windows Live Mail do not work properly on Linux or in Firefox.  So the solution is if you want to use Exchange use Microsofts products, if you want to use Linux or Firefox dont bother with Microsoft.  Linux, Firefox and even the mac in some ways are second class citizens.  Microsoft and Bill Hilf can make all the claims about how they are the good guys and they are really trying to interoperate.  Just show me.  Quit treating alternative platforms like second class citizens, support Firefox and Linux with WLM and OWA.  Gmail, Yahoo and even AOL webmail give you a consistent user experience across alternative platforms and browsers so we know its not rocket science and that it can be done, probably very easily.
  • Chris PietschmannCRPietschma​nn Chris Pietschmann
    Excellent interview! I look forward to more from Bill!
  • Charles wrote:
    
    Chadk wrote: Just began watching. Whats up with the sound? The sound quallity seems so much better! I love it


    The camera I use now has an incredible microphone! This should continue to be the case.


    The sound is terrific and the interview was exceptional.Smiley

    Next time you have Bill on Channel 9, ask him how he would compete with Open Source Apache and how Microsoft will be competing with Apache with IIS 7.0. 

    May be it is time to do a follow up video with Vice President Scott Guthrie.

    Great job Charles.

    Cool

  • earnshawearnshaw Jack Sleeps
    Open Source and Closed Source need not conflict, especially in view of the fact that Open Source applications can drive sales of Closed Source products.  One reason for the existence of the Close Source marketing model is to protect Intellectual Property.  Another is to thwart the dispersion of multiple unofficial versions of a product with varying quality and responsibility for evolution and correction.  Open Source does admit a greater number of people to review, correct, enhance, and learn code and methods.  Ownership of such changes cannot be clearly established without a contract.
  • Awsome video article!!  That is why microsoft Rocks!!!  They let everyone know the meat and potatoes about the business. Awsome Video Article.
  • Interesting way of looking at the open source business model. Speaking of donuts, have you been watching Red Hat founder Bob Young's lulu site (lulu.com)? It seems like a promising startup in the e-book/p.o.d. market...I'd be curious to see their business model, too, because basic publishing services start off as "free", but there are numerous "complementary" services around that core concept.
  • I have my own linux comatible lab. Vista and other windows system not frendly to linux from install. If you try to install windows after installing linux it's completle erace linux bootloader. When you install linux after windows then in linux bootloader you can choose to boot linux or windows. And there more issues in compatible windows with linux. How about detecting partitition type in windows installer an d disk manager and maybe read linux files (you can access windows file from linux)
  • A good video, and very insightful view of Open Source.

    My question though, is what is the "Microsoft" angle, on the following question/statement.


    If I, as a developer, find that there is a bug, in {component-X}, in {product-Y} that Microsoft made, even though I found the bug, and even though I *may* be able to fix the bug, I have no avenue to do so.

    I can report (although not easily) to Microsoft that the bug exists, but I do not have any public way to track it, and the turnaround time for the fix, is *very* long, *if* I even get a fix.

    In the OSS model, I can report it (easily), I can actually go and find the bug in the code, and report to the developer, oh, it's this method, on line #456 of file xyz,... (thus developers can find and fix it faster)

    Additionally, I can actually create a patch, (for myself... if it is just purely a frustrating bug), or submit it to the OSS community to be tested, and included in a new release.


    PS I'm seriously not trying to bash here, I'm just noting what I find frustrating about closed software.

    E.g. I like Office, I like Excel, but it drives me *insane*, that Excel will DELETE contents off the Windows clipboard, if I press Esc, while I have content highlighted on my worksheet.... I pressed Esc, to get rid of the flashing highlight on my content, that I copied to the clipboard... but when I go to any other application to paste my copied content, its gone!

    thanks

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