Collaborating with Microsoft on Open Source and the awkward moment I realised I was part of it

March 5, 2010

Collaborating with Microsoft, is a phrase that reads rather like a pejorative. Clearly not what is intended but revealing nonetheless of Microsoft’s perception in the open source community.  This is a perception that Microsoft is clearly serious about changing and I have somehow become part of this (despite turning up for a meeting at MS HQ toting a Macbook and iPhone).

I am now part of a collaborative effort (with Microsoft at the fulcrum) to create some sexy open source packages for the Umbraco platform. Also on this team are:

This as far as I can tell is a fairly hands off Microsoft backed initiative, we build some packages, blog and vlog about it and Microsoft give us access to the relevant teams they have internally.

There is no censorship on what we say, if we think Silverlight is a solution in need of a problem we’re free to say so……… nope no MS swat team just bashed down my door, looks like I’m free to continue.

We’re working on a few different projects, but there is one biggie that will be the posterboy of this effort. Can’t say too much right now, it’s bad luck to discuss vapourware (rather like naming Macbeth in a theatre, only without the over theatrical swooning and hopping round in a circle three times, to break the hex).

So far I have been impressed with Microsoft’s willingness to help and most impressively it’s willingness to listen to open source developers. This from a company that only a few years ago described open source in distinctly disparaging terms.

I’m hoping this will mark the beginning of a fruitful relationship between Microsoft and not just the Umbraco community but the other open source communities that Microsoft is extending is offer of friendship to. (I suspect they are tired of jokes about Steve Ballmer throwing chairs through windows at the thought of it however).

So what’s been achieved so far? Well Warren has released his excellent auto translation package (well done Warren), initial planning of the “don’t mention it’s name” app is done and Darren has made some fantastic progress on getting a proof of concept up and running. Microsoft have set us a deadline (very sensible in my opinion, as I’m wont to talk at length about any subject, regaling my audience with anecdotes and tales of my past at the code face) so with a fair wind we should have exciting things to see by the end of this month.

Until my next update (when hopefully I will have actually written some code)

à bien tôt!


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