Open Source Systems – Keynote #4 – Mark Gayer on Microsoft’s Open Source Initiative

Mark Gayer opened his keynote by stating that it was unusual for Microsoft to be at an open source conference; he then went through a number of slides outlining how Microsoft is engaging with the open source community. Mark’s job is to travel the world, speaking and helping people understand how to use Microsoft technologies with open source and other non-Microsoft systems.

Mark took the audience on a tour of where Microsoft has contributed to the open source community;

  • They have made significant contirbutions to the Linux 3.0 kernel (a later audience question queried which areas of the kernel Microsoft were contributing in; it’s mainly around drivers). They are the 5th large corporate contributor to the Linux kernel.
  • They have done a lot of work in getting open source software such as WordPress and Joomla to work well under Windows – one of my key frustrations with the LAMP stack was that the WAMP stack used to be such an inferior cousin. Mark stated that there had been 400% growth in pen source applications running on Windows – and that 23 of the top 25 most downloaded OSS projects run on Windows. This is facilitated by tools such as WebMatrix.
  • Microsoft is also investing in standards – and they are a member of more than 150 standards organisations. Interestingly, they are a platinum sponsor of the Apache foundation.
  • Mark talked us through other contributions M$ have made – particularly in the VM space, and with Java on Azure, support for node.js, and in the PHP community.

Generally, his key takeaway was;

‘across the technology stack, Microsoft is working hard to make sure our products work will with government, education and enterprise’

Mark advocated that Microsoft was strong in the research, academic and scientific community, and attempted to make their code base available under open source licenses wherever possible here.

  • Zentity – allows data mashups across research databases
  • f # is a new development language
  • Chronozoom – was a very interesting tool developed jointly between Microsoft, Berkely and University of Moscow that shows the history of all time. This was an amazing product – with lots of potential in education.

Mark also demonstrated the work Microsoft had done with the Open Government Data Initiative and how this was being used to foster transparency and openness of government in countries such as Colombia. The source is available on GitHub.

Full disclosure: Microsoft Research were a main sponsor of the OSS2012 conference, a fact that the audience were reminded of before Mark began his keynote. I interpreted this as a hint to ‘go easy’.

I did however ask Mark about Microsoft’s position on UEFI secure boot; he stated he would follow up with a blog post – I will post it here when received.

UPDATE: Mark has blogged about his experience in Tunisia here; http://blogs.technet.com/b/openness/archive/2012/09/14/oss-2012-tunisia-microsoft-open-source-and-the-cloud.aspx however it does not mention UEFI secure boot at all.