Microsoft Loves Linux

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Microsoft Corp. at LinuxWorld today is expected to unveil a new Web site that provides users with information about its Linux and open-source interoperability efforts, according to the executive in charge of those plans.

Bill Hilf, general manager of Microsoft’s platform strategy group, will discuss the site, http://www.port25.technet.com/, during his keynote at the conference in Boston later this morning. The site will go live today.

Hilf, who formerly worked on Linux deployments at IBM, has been overseeing Microsoft’s Linux and open-source interoperability lab in Redmond, Wash., for the past two years. He recently moved into a more senior position, replacing Martin Taylor, who has moved over to the Windows Live team. Hilf is now in charge of all of Microsoft’s open-source compatibility efforts, including its controversial Get the Facts anti-Linux campaign and its SharedSource initiative, which is the company’s own version of allowing developers access to some of its proprietary source code.

The aim of the new Web site is to showcase Microsoft’s efforts to ensure its proprietary systems interoperate with open-source software, including Linux. The company also is encouraging advice about how to advance these goals, Hilf said.

“It’s going to be the interface to all of the open-source lab work Microsoft does, where a variety of people blog — including myself and others on my team,” he said. “People in the community also can provide feedback and give us ideas for better interoperability.”

Even the site’s name reflects this notion of an open channel of communication, Hilf said. Port 25 is the server port that sends and receives e-mail on a server, thus facilitating two-way communication, he said.

In the past several years, Microsoft has appeared to become more open-source-friendly, but mainly from a market perspective. Without planning to support open-source itself as a strategy, the company has realized that Linux and other open-source software is here to stay. From a business perspective, it’s important that Microsoft technology can coexist peacefully in the same network with those products, Hilf said.

“The great thing is that as a market we’ve gotten past the David and Goliath stuff,” he said. “The reality is that customers run different technologies. …We’re still a commercial software company, but in some cases, people want to run Linux, want to run Windows virtualized, want to manage Linux using [Microsoft products]. In those situations, we can find a way to interoperate.”

To that end, Microsoft earlier this week at LinuxWorld released Virtual Server 2005 Release 2, the latest version of its virtualization environment for Windows that also supports the client and server versions of Linux distributions from Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc. Microsoft also announced it would offer the product for free.

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