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Microsoft Linux Lab Manager Responds

Roblimo posted more than 9 years ago | from the we-love-open-source-but-hide-it-well dept.

Microsoft 541

Bill Hilf, Microsoft's Linux Lab Manager, got his answers to your questions back to us in time to publish them just before the San Francisco LinuxWorld, where he is speaking. Before you ask: Yes, Microsoft PR had a look at his answers before he sent them. So if you have any follow-up questions for Mr. Hilf, please post them below and I'll try to ask at least a few of them in person at LinuxWorld.1) Start with the obvious
by Raul654

Dear Mr. Hilf - Surely by now you have to have been accused of helping Microsoft try to exterminate Linux. How do you respond to such accusations?


Bill:

I get that occasionally, you bet. But usually after I explain what I'm actually doing, it helps clear up the conspiracy theories (of which, there are quite a few). The truth is my job is to help Microsoft have a clear, unbiased and knowledgeable understanding of Open Source Software (OSS): the technology, the development models, how the community works, the pros and cons, and the mechanics of the overall process. So, no, Microsoft is not out to exterminate Linux or Open Source, Linux and Open Source Software will continue to be part of the software industry. My job is to help Microsoft have an understanding of the Open Source technology world.

In fact, Microsoft has benefited from OSS, has participated in OSS projects, and feels that OSS will continue to have an important role in the ecosystem. Both commercial and open source offer specific advantages. And several development models can and should coexist in healthy competition. After many years of working in both environments, a mantra I've seen pay off numerous times is "choose technology to fit the need" not based on a belief or religion: in other words, if the software doesn't solve the problem in a cost effective way, belief and religion won't stop the IT guys' cell phones and pagers from ringing at 2 AM, and that goes for *any* technology, regardless of the development model.

2) Open Standards
by Oriumpor

How does Microsoft internally deal with Open Standards and Open Document Formats?

I suppose more generally: In your testing is it solely relegated to Linux in the Server role, or do you address End-User issues as well?


Bill:

We are interested in all sorts of distributions, commercial and non-commercial, of Linux and we test many types of Open Source software overall.

We are very active in helping our product teams test out their open standards implementations. For example, we are currently doing this with Windows Server R2 (a release of Windows Server due out later this year) and its support for NFS and NIS. In a broader answer to this question, Microsoft strongly supports the promotion of open standards. Microsoft's participation in standards bodies such as IETF, W3C and OASIS, and our royalty-free contributions of technology to Web Services standards supports this commitment.

That said, Open Source does not equal Open Standards. It surprises me that this is an issue that(some) people still don't really comprehend. Let's break it down:
* The term "open standards" describes the results of a process for establishing uniform technical specifications (when used in the broader sense);
* While the term "open source," by contrast, refers to a software development and licensing model.
* Open standards may be implemented by software developed under any development and licensing model - non-OSS and OSS alike.

The VCR is a good example of a standards-based product that allowed any video tape* to play on any player - providing a marketplace of competitive VCR implementations, competitive tape media suppliers, and commercial opportunities.

*go ahead, someone say "Hey, but what about Betamax?" - but you get my point.

3) Penguin Aid?
by deathcloset


No doubt one of the activities of microsoft's linux lab is testing the security of linux.

My question is this: if you find a security vulnerability in linux, do you inform the linux community about it?

Bill:

We definitely look at security technologies in OSS in general, including Linux, but we do not actively do security code audits on Linux/OSS. We do occasionally stumble on bugs by accident in various products, and we always email the parties concerned, and it's up to them to do the right thing from that point on.

Let me give you some examples. Michael Howard, one of our security gurus here at Microsoft, has come across some issues in some projects, such as Apache.

As a company, we strongly believe in and encourage responsible disclosure of vulnerabilities. The practice of reporting vulnerabilities directly to a vendor is beneficial to everyone. It helps to ensure that customers receive high-quality software updates for security vulnerabilities, without exposure to malicious attackers while the update is being developed.

In my team's day to day work, we have discovered bugs and submitted fixes upstream. For example, the smbtorture test suite included with Samba had a bug that we identified. We provided a backtrace to the developers, and it was fixed and committed.

We also found some problems with the GAIM Instant Messaging client. GAIM's MSN via HTTP feature didn't work. The bug was noticed by our team because we had a real need for MSN via HTTP on our Linux desktops. So we fixed the issue and submitted the patch upstream.

4) Can Microsoft Ever Give Us Free As In Freedom?
by nurhussein

We've heard a lot about MS having a lower TCO etc., and who knows it may even be true in some cases, but does Microsoft realise that the reason some of us are on Linux is for the "Free as in Freedom" part? This may matter not to the PHBs, but some of the Linux users MS is trying to court such as HPC consist of engineers and scientists who operate things like particle accelerators and are unfazed by the "complexity" of Linux and appreciate the freedom to be able to customise it to their needs?


Can Microsoft ever be as liberal with their operating system as Linux developers are with Linux?

Bill:

Great question, and as someone who has spent time in the academic world as well as in the HPC world, I very much understand your point.

There's always a trade-off between modularity and integration, or said another way, there is always a balance between the ability to customize anything and everything and the ability to deliver a consistent, tested and supported software solution to a broad base of users.

This is not a Windows vs. Linux thing but more of a software design issue. The key is realizing that there's a continuum of possible trade-offs. With increased integration you have certain advantages and disadvantages, and conversely with increased modularity you have other advantages and disadvantages. As an operating system designer, you can pick where you want to be on this modularity/integration spectrum.

Microsoft has found that pursuing a balance, rather than one extreme, is a successful approach that fits the needs of our users and customers in a broad and effective way.

For the global software ecosystem, the best environment for innovation is the coexistence of OSS and commercial software. There is a good review of this successful interaction between software models here.

We try to provide the transparency and flexibility you describe through our Shared Source program. The Microsoft Shared Source Initiative is a range of programs and licenses to make Microsoft source code more broadly available to customers, partners, developers, governments, academics and other people who are interested. Shared Source now serves more than 1.5 million developers through source code access programs. What surprises most people when I tell them about our Shared Source program is that 99% of the >70 programs have full redistribution and modification rights.

5) Stranger in a strage land
by winkydink

Doesn't working at MS isolate you somewhat from the OSS community? What do you do to keep your OSS perspective and skills current?


Bill:

Believe it or not, I use more different types of OSS here at Microsoft than I've ever used before. Our team uses over 40 different flavors of Linux and BSD, plus several commercial Unix variants. Beyond this, we use an ever-growing number of OSS applications. In my spare time, I'm even learning some stuff about Windows J

I also interact with the OSS community and am in contact with many people in the OSS development community from all sorts of different projects. It's important to keep open lines of communication. We may not always agree, but the dialogue is always open and friendly.

6) Why doesn't Microsoft release Microsoft Linux?
by amper

The subject says it all (mostly).

One of the primary reasons Linux is somewhat inferior to commercial offerings when considered as a general-purpose desktop operating system is that there is a lack of a single guiding human interface standard for the various groups to work toward. Companies such as Apple Computer and Microsoft have invested large amounts of money in human interface studies, and although much of this information has been made readily accessible to the public, it would appear that very little of that information has been put to good use by F/OSS developers.

With Apple using the BSD branch of software as its operating system core, do you see a future for a Microsoft-branded Linux distribution, using a Microsoft-developed HCI design?

Though there is a large amount of enmity in the F/OSS community toward Microsoft, it cannot be denied that Microsoft's development methods are demonstrably capable of producing quality software. Could Microsoft serve as a catalyst for consolidation within the community, while remaining true to the F/OSS philosophy? Could such a strategy be profitable for Microsoft?


Bill:

Without question, our strategic bet is on Windows. Windows Vista and Longhorn mark the threshold of our next wave of innovation. This might sound a bit like an 'I drank the Kool-Aid' type answer but I've seen what we've built and are in the process of building, and I've seen what we're architecting. Our developers are creating products and technologies that are redefining what is possible with software. It's an exciting time to be at Microsoft.

But you raise a good point, which is: can there be a positive reciprocal relationship between Microsoft and the OSS development community? I strongly believe the answer is "Yes" and I spend a lot of time trying to help this relationship mature. There is a great amount we can learn from one another, and we have just begun to explore the potential of this relationship.

7) Samba
by miltimj

Is one of your projects to assist in analyzing Samba source code to help coworkers better understand the SMB protocol?


Bill:

This is not something we do, but as I mentioned above, we do use the smbtorture test suite in our labs and we do test for Samba interoperability.

8) Execs trying Linux?
by unsinged int

Have you ever managed to get any of the big shots (for example, Gates) to sit down and try Linux for a few minutes? If so, what did they say? If not, why not? Did they have an allergic reaction and try to run away from you, or have you not asked?

I think it would be interesting to hear the opinions of people at Microsoft who actually have tried Linux (with KDE, OpenOffice, Firefox, etc.), versus the standard "Linux is evil" public relations line.


Bill:

All of our executives see and occasionally use non-Microsoft technologies. This is certainly going to get me flamed, but the Microsoft executives I have worked with are typically very technical, sometimes extraordinarily so. They grasp new technologies very quickly. Sometimes they say "Hey, that problem was solved five years ago - is that it?" -- other times they say "We've got some work to do". I personally have not had an experience here where someone said 'Linux is evil!' Microsoft is a company with deep roots in technology, so most people here approach technology - our own or others - with a technologist's curiosity and interest. Easily one of my favorite things about Microsoft is its culture of curiosity about technology and its potential.

9) Windows Services for Unix
by dtfinch

Microsoft has long offered Services for Unix free for download to provide a unix-like environment on Windows. I've seen rumors and speculation that SFU will be included by default in Windows Vista, with some GPL'd portions replaced or rewritten to maintain compliance. If it's true, what level of functionality and compatibility can we expect?


Bill:

You should attend my LinuxWorld session this week J

I can't confirm what functionality will be in what version of Windows Vista. However, I can confirm that the next-generation of several components of Services for UNIX are being integrated into Windows Server 2003 R2. The NFS client, NFS Server, User/Name Mapping, Telnet Server & Client, Password Sync and NIS Server components of Services for UNIX are all present in the Windows Server 2003 R2 builds. In addition, a revamped POSIX subsystem, the "Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications" or "SUA" is also available as an optional install in R2.

Integrating this functionality in Windows Server 2003 R2 provides native support of cross-platform management tools, Windows/UNIX interoperability and UNIX to Windows application portability. This is a big help for many of the customers I talk to and something I will demonstrate at my LinuxWorld session this week.

10) Beat em or Join em?
by jdehnert

Having been in IT a looong time, I'm pretty familiar with all of the major players.

All of them have their +'s and -'s, but one of my biggest gripes about Microsoft is that instead of trying to leverage OSS, they continually try to crush or marginalize it. Over time I find myself less and less likely to consider a Microsoft solution because I know that over time Microsoft will try and make that solution less interoperable with all of my other solutions.

Microsoft would sell more software to me if I could be sure that they are NOT going to try and lock out all of my other platforms going forward.

Given your current position, does it look as if Microsoft will continue to try and marginalize OSS, or will they do an about face and work to try and ensure ongoing interoperability?


Bill:

If there's one thing that I'd like people to take away from this interview, it's that we can, and should, cooperate and learn from one another.

We love to write great software. One thing Microsoft knows well is the art of 'co-opetition' - competing and also cooperating. Both Microsoft and OSS technologies will continue to be around. We can compete - and competition is healthy - but just as important, we also need to cooperate and make sure that we pursue interoperability as a common goal. We need to be comfortable doing both, simultaneously. We need to have an open, mature relationship.

The key to making this happen is to have open lines of communication. If someone in the OSS community runs into a technical interoperability problem with Microsoft products, I want to know about it. In many cases, we'll be able to do something to resolve the issue. There may be a solution that already exists. Or the problem could be related to an issue that might need to be addressed by one of our product teams. But at the very least, I'll try my best to help and give you a straight answer.

One of my first demos to a high-level executive involved showing some standards-based Linux/Windows interoperability scenarios. I expected to receive an "If it's not built here, then I don't care" kind of response.

To my surprise, his reaction was the opposite: "This is good--we should do more of this type of thing." And I've seen this commitment from many others here at Microsoft, in a variety of roles. At the end of the day, we want software to "just work" too. That's what great software is all about.
If you'd like to contact me directly, I can be reached at billhilf at microsoft dot com.

------

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Lone Wolf? (5, Insightful)

sessamoid (165542) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270142)

Hilf's answers sound quite reasonable, something that most of us don't associate with Microsoft. I understand that his answered were cleared by MSFT public relations department, but that's not quite the same as saying that the company as a whole feels the same way he does. How much of this is just him and/or his department, and how much of this is truly the attitude of the company as a whole? A lot of what some of the other talking heads at Microsoft have been saying over the years is not only different, it's often completely counter to Hilf's views.

Re:Lone Wolf? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270209)

Did you read the interview at all?

How can he be deemed reasonable, he never really said anything of worth. He talked around every subject. "We believe in working together blah blah blah". It is just PR fluff, nothing more. His job is to undermine Linux, he can't get around that....MSFT can do no good when it comes to OSS and Linux. They will do everything they can to corrupt and destroy it.

They have a monopoly and they like it that way. Anyone who actually believes they will change their ways is a fool.

Re:Lone Wolf? (3, Insightful)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270469)

Umm, what about the stuff where they discovered a bug in GAIM talking to MSN over HTTP ?

I know it's too much too ask to RTFA, but atleast RTF Text of the submission.

Be it Microsoft or any other company, what ever that goes to the press/public has better be cleared thru PR dept. especially if it involves a sesetive issue for the company.

you can ask IBM about linux and get non PR quoted stuff, but ask them about SCO, and be sure to get a PR approved response. That's what responsible business do.

Re:Lone Wolf? (1)

jaypaulw (889877) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270217)

One thing is certain, there are surely a lot of clever people at microsoft.

Re:Lone Wolf? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270376)

Yes, certainly cleverer that the typical slashdot dross. Most of whom who couldn't even get past the security guy on the desk at Redmond campus.

To get into MS in any role, you need to show that you are very clued up on current affairs, politics, food, sports, music, dancing, wine, culture, the arts you name it! AS WELL AS your tech subject.

You have to show more than 1 or 2 dimension to your personality (e.g. "CODING - I LIVE FOR CODING - AND ANIME") and show that you will fit in there with other smart people.

OK. Bash me down now, but I have worked with a lot of MS people and they are on the whole VERY smart, VERY successful and have some other interests in life besides FOSS.

I don't think many
It's only their morals that are called into question.

Re:Lone Wolf? (5, Insightful)

krappie (172561) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270314)

Hilf's answers sound quite reasonable, something that most of us don't associate with Microsoft.

You're right. Someone needs to put quotes of this guy right next some famous MS executive quotes.

Hilf:
"I personally have not had an experience here where someone said 'Linux is evil!'"

Ballmer:
"Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches"

Re:Lone Wolf? (1)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270437)

Well....the explicit statement is not that Linux is Evil, but that Linux is Cancer. The question being to complete the line of reasoning is "Is Cancer evil?" Most would argue yes of course.

However I think Ballmer's attack in this case is misdirected. Ballmer needs to redirect his attack if that is how he feels. Rather not attacking Linux, but the GPL (and related licenses) which would fit better with the metaphor than blaming Linux itself.

Re:Lone Wolf? (1)

Professor S. Brown (780963) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270325)

Did you read the same answers I did? Everything he said was touchy feely likely Linux but in a totally non-committal, fact free, marketing-droid kind of way. I'm suprised he didn't mention how he liked to touch base and/or recannoiter with the OSS community vis a vis reading from the same hymn sheet.

Re:Lone Wolf? (4, Insightful)

zr-rifle (677585) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270341)

Actually unreasonable is what you would expect from the Microsoft PR department, not viceversa. Techie guys obviously have no interest whatsoever in corporate FUD and guerilla marketing tactics. They're interested in the value of technology and, since Microsoft employs some of the best and brightest in the field, this is a typical no-nonsense response you'd normally get from one of them.

A very interesting read and no doubt very flammable material to link to on the linux zealot forums.

Re:Lone Wolf? (2, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270467)

True, but my question is this.
Are the bill gates types still in charge over there, or are the engineers and technical types in charge? Those who make the decisions are the people who's opinions and views matter the most.

Re:Lone Wolf? (5, Funny)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270374)

I understand that his answered were cleared by MSFT public relations department, but that's not quite the same as saying that the company as a whole feels the same way he does.

Maybe MS censored the part where Hilf says:
W1nd0ws sux0rz! L1nux 1337!

Re:Lone Wolf? (1)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270401)

Even if these responses are an exception within the ranks of Microsoft executives, it is somewhat comforting to know that there are people within Microsoft that feel this way.

The same extends to nearly any organization. While I am not pleased with some companies or governments, I am happy that there are good, reasonable people trying to affect change from within.

Re:Lone Wolf? (1)

six11 (579) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270528)

And what's more is that before Hilf was put into his current position, MS higherups needed to become convinced that such a position was useful enough to justify spending so much money on it. True, Microsoft has deep pockets, but there must have been a lot of discussion involving a lot of people on the topic of "we need to learn from Open Source". I suspect there are a lot of people--even important people capable of creating new boxes in the org chart--trying to "affect change from within".

more like Wolf in a Penguin Suit (5, Insightful)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270500)

The Borg Motor Corp. tells thier customers that "Quality is Job One", they tell their employess that "Safety is Job One", but they tell their stockholders the truth, that "Profits are Job One". Msft has a long history of doing anything to accomplish Job One, and there's nobody they won't shake hands with then stab-in-the-back to do it. This lab manager makes 1) good pr for a company will tons (billions) of ill-gotten gain to throw around and 2) helps them understand the competition better in order to win contracts that someone else may get.

Re:Lone Wolf? (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270504)

I don't know. Towing the party line about Microsoft supporting open standards?

If there's one thing Microsoft clearly does NOT do, it's support open standards, especially when it's not in their own best interests. Microsoft plays the game of 'embrace, extend, extinguish' with open standards much of the time.

If Microsoft is so willing to support open standards and interoperability, then I challenge them to produce a version of Microsoft Office that offers full and complete support for reading and writing the OASIS Open Document format -- without breaking the standard.

Otherwise, I call shenanigans!

Re:Lone Wolf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270511)

I actually met Hilf at the first annual Southern California Linux Expo [socallinuxexpo.com] , when he was involved with IBM. He was actually resonably involved with my lug (OCLug [oclug.org] ) and though I don't remember him at meetings (granted I didn't go to very many myself) I do remember seeing him post/reply on the mailing list. There were not a lot of people at the expo and he was one of the few that were actaully there. Kudos to Hilf.

Probably a liar (1)

BerntB (584621) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270554)

He must have laughed aloud in the last question, when he discussed interoperability.

Microsoft has tried to close out OSS developers, like the Samba people, even when they were required by EU to open their protocols...

It is standard practice for monopolists to vary implementations and standards -- it is to their advantage. And it is standard practice to lie about it. (Something like foreign policy even in democracies; "realpolitik" rules -- and all countries lie about it.)

Re:Lone Wolf? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270559)

I didn't see anything at all in this interview. A lot of words, but it doesn't sound so much approved by Microsoft's PR guys as much as it was written by them. Maybe someday Microsoft will learn how to communicate, but this day wasn't one of them. What an unmitigated waste of electrons.

Error (-1, Offtopic)

krappie (172561) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270144)

move along now, nothing to see here

First question: (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270153)

Did Microsoft PR have a look at his answers before he sent them?

Re:First question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270207)

Never mind RTFA, RTFsummary!

Before you ask: Yes, Microsoft PR had a look at his answers before he sent them.

Re:First question: (1)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270268)

Look how the wording is exact. Perhaps he/she read the summary and posted that comment, then the summary was edited to answer the question.

Re:First question: (1)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270301)

Looks like the joke is on me. The summary says "before you ask", so he was just asking to be funny.

Re:First question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270386)

Well, you can't knock him for trying - although it looks like neither of us laughed...

The Reason (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270189)

"The truth is my job is to help Microsoft have a clear, unbiased and knowledgeable understanding of Open Source Software (OSS)"

...So that they can deny the merits of OSS the most effectively, in other words, spread FUD.

Not right.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270210)

Something seems not right about his answers. As if it were passed through a marketing or PR filter afterwards. Not that he can't be pro-work, but it doesn't read right. Call me a skeptic.

Re:Not right.. (3, Informative)

Momoru (837801) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270419)

Cripes, can't you people realize that not everyone thinks in this "My team is better then yours and thats the only way it will be" mentality? Bill sounds like a reasonable open minded person, I know quite a few people that work at Microsoft and they are the same way...they are just nerds like us, that happen to have gotten a job with Microsoft. It may be fun to picture the execs at MS as shadowy figures hating all things non windows, but like Bill mentioned, most are still just techies and can appreciate Linux, Google and other cool things. That said, they are still a company trying to make a profit, and will do and say the occasional thing to defend against competition. But cripes, not everyone is so one minded as everyone on here. It's not you must LOVE firefox and HATE IE, or must LOVE IE and HATE firefox...there are plusses and minuses to everything...use what you like, let others use what they like, and go outside and ride your bike or something.

Re:Not right.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270548)

So true...my friend just got a job working for Microsoft. He loves Linux and has a G4. However if you are straight out of college and somebody offers you $80,000 to work at a company you will take it, no matter what your feelings on OSS are.

Re:Not right.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270568)

Only if you have absolutely no integrity and self worth. Your friend seems to fall squarely into that camp.

I've had enough (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270215)

I read the first question and answer and I can't read anymore:

"So, no, Microsoft is not out to exterminate Linux or Open Source, Linux and Open Source Software will continue to be part of the software industry. My job is to help Microsoft have an understanding of the Open Source technology world."

What he meant to say was:

My job is to help Microsoft have an understanding of the Open Source technology world so that we can destroy it systematicaly.

This is so "Godfather". Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.

Open relationships... (5, Funny)

iBod (534920) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270222)

FTA: "We need to have an open, mature relationship"

Tried that one on my wife once, and I didn't have one decent hot meal in over 6 months.

Hmmm... (2, Interesting)

TheOtherAgentM (700696) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270229)

"If you'd like to contact me directly, I can be reached at billhilf at microsoft dot com."

Does this mean I can contact billgates at microsoft dot com, because I have some questions I'd like to ask him too.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

SeattleGameboy (641456) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270262)

It is actually billg@microsoft.com

And yes you can send as many questions as you would like. Just be aware that this alias gets millions of emails, so you may have to wait a while to get your answers.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

DarkYoshi (895118) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270351)

Let's play Count the Secretaries! - I can't spell, unless that's correct.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

mark0 (750639) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270344)

Actually, it's billg.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270414)

It's both -- it's aliased. He also has an internal address that goes straight to him, but it only works from @microsoft.com addresses.

Very illuminating (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270231)

I see that /. did not have the cojones to ask difficult questions. So much for its credibility.

Re:Very illuminating (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270330)

Well Mr. Anonymous COWARD instead of ranting you could have had some cojones asked some "difficult question" out of your anonymous hiding place

Isn't Longhort == Vista? (2, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270237)

Windows Vista and Longhorn mark the threshold of our next wave of innovation.

Isn't Longhorn == Vista?

Re:Isn't Longhort == Vista? (3, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270286)

No, Windows Vista is the next consumer release of the Windows OS, Longhorn is the codebase for that and future releases. Very similiar but also both can be referred to as seperate entities.

Re:Isn't Longhort == Vista? (1)

Iriel (810009) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270309)

Quite true, I've already read about the reports on Longhorn Server 2007.

Re:Isn't Longhort == Vista? (1)

DarkYoshi (895118) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270302)

Perhaps Vista will be the "Home Edition" and LongHorn the "Proffesional Edition." I, personally have used both of XP for long perionds of time. I am currently using Pro, and I have yet to find a difference between it and Home.

Re:Isn't Longhort == Vista? (1)

pthor1231 (885423) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270404)

Besides some extra money, I believe Home edition can't run terminal services client. So....not that big of a difference

Re:Isn't Longhort == Vista? (1)

pthor1231 (885423) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270435)

and by client, I clearly meant server

Re:Isn't Longhort == Vista? (1)

MSFanBoi (695480) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270307)

By Longhorn he is talking about the yet unnamed replacement for Windows Server 2003. For now: Windows Vista superceedes Windows XP Longhorn superceedes Windows Server 2003

Re:Isn't Longhort == Vista? (1)

piecewise (169377) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270354)

Longhorn refers at this point to the next Windows Server platform, which does not yet have a commercial name.

Re:Isn't Longhort == Vista? (1)

sp5 (867987) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270461)

Windows Vista and Longhorn mark the threshold of our next wave of innovation.

Isn't Longhorn == Vista?

I think it's actually lim (x -> Longhorn) x = Vista

-sp-

Not fair... (5, Funny)

LegendOfLink (574790) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270241)

Yes, Microsoft PR had a look at his answers before he sent them.

*A paperclip icon comes up onto your desktop*

"Hi, I see you're answering questions from Slashdot, and I noticed you need some help."

| Yes, delete all negative MS comments | or | Yes, delete all negative MS comments |

Of course you're joking... (1)

Petersko (564140) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270475)

...but of course the "kernal of truth" joking is often the funniest.

If I were him I would have immediately ignored anything along the lines of, "Do you think Microsoft is outright evil, or just misguided?", or "Why is Microsoft trying to [insert dastardly deed here]?"

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me (1)

MSFanBoi (695480) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270248)

Don't see a lot of marketing fluf, and the guy most assuredly knows his stuff. If he is excited by some of the new stuff due in R2 and Vista, then it must be rather good stuff. He even admits even at Microsoft he isn't much of a Windows user but is learning more about it. Not bad responses from him at all.

Re:Sounds perfectly reasonable to me (1)

Rosyna (80334) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270526)

Don't see a lot of marketing fluf

Then you obviously aren't paying attention.

Let's take it from the cynics view, shall we? This guy's job is to "understand" the Pros and Cons of Linux and OSS. He then reports the Cons to the marketing department and they use it in their anti-Linux campaign. And with the Samba stuff, his team is looking for fundamental ways MS can break interoperability. In such a way the Samba team can't fix it. Either because it is fundamental or it's been patented or MS can otherwise block its inclusion.

I tend to always look at all MS statements as being part of the "embrace, extend, extinguish" mantra.

And what's that saying? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Biggest Issue with MS Interoperability (3, Interesting)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270253)

I think my biggest issue with MS interoperability currently is NTFS write support in Linux or EXT3/ReiserFS/XFS support in Windows. Being a dual boot person, I really need a partition that's fast, efficient, reliable enough for everyday use, and interoperable.

Does MS have any such plan in the work to either a) support alternative file systems (such as EXT2/3) natively or at least publish something explaining how their older FS (NTFS) works such that OSS people can write a better interoperability module?

Re:Biggest Issue with MS Interoperability (1)

mrm677 (456727) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270565)

Honestly dual-boot seems to be for tinkerers. Anybody with a need for both operating systems will either purchase more hardware or virtualize it with VMWare. I sure hope that NTFS write support in Linux is at the bottom of the list for new features.

Re:Biggest Issue with MS Interoperability (4, Informative)

purplebear (229854) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270579)

Windows already "natively" supports alternative file systems via IFS. It's just that someone needs to write a file system driver for whatever file system is desired.
There is a ext2 IFS driver available at http://www.fs-driver.org/ [fs-driver.org] There are other drivers out as well, some not as complete as others.
Being that MS provides IFS and a development kit, I would think it should up to the filesystem developers to provide the driver to Windows.

I love this quote: (1, Interesting)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270255)

One thing Microsoft knows well is the art of 'co-opetition' - competing and also cooperating. ...or maybe 'co-opting' the competition?

Where do they get these guys? No one I know talks like Microsofties - which gives me the feeling I'm listening to a snake oil/car salesman. They slip up in little ways that gives you a picture of the inner truth - that is only possible if they are keeping a tight reign on their inner voice for public consumption.

Re:I love this quote: (3, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270366)

that is only possible if they are keeping a tight reign on their inner voice for public consumption.
Name me any Fortune-500 companies that DON'T prohibit their employees from talking directly to the press, or otherwise require the PR/legal departments to review all public statements? Having the CEO say "Linux is a cancer" to mainstream press and having a peon say "we benefit from and contribute to OSS!" to Slashdotters definitely gives you a slimy feeling about microsoft, but don't include the tight control over public statements as one of your reasons to mark MS off as slimy.

It's a common term (1)

RebornData (25811) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270581)

"Co-opetition" is a pretty common business buzzword, often uttered in the same sentence as "synergy" and "solution". Heck, I think someone even wrote a book by that title.

-R

Flame awa, but... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270260)

like the man said, I, too, put my money on MS in the long run. I've been in the IT industry too long and seen too much to believe that MS will back down anytime soon. Linux has actually helped MS improve itself. Unfortunatley, too many people put freedom above all else. People talk about open source in here like it's the 2nd coming, but if the truth be known, almost nobody save developers and the zealots care about seeing the source.
As a guy whos purposely moving away from being a techie into management, I can tell you that all I care about is getting the job done. I could care less whether that solution is MS or linux. Whatever works. Open standards, though are imperative for us all to play nicely.

Re:Flame awa, but... (2, Insightful)

kg4gyt (799019) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270327)

Its not all about the code. I rarely look at open source sourcecode, however the OSS community is much more inviting and helpful than commercial groups. The reason: Commercial groups just want your money, while OSS groups are already giving the software away.

OSS also lacks the restrictions that Microsoft places on the consumer such as product activation, automatic-updates that don't always work, etc. etc.

OSS isn't all about the soucecode, its about the community behind it.

Re:Flame awa, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270563)

Inviting and helpful? What planet are you from? I stopped using OSS years ago becuase of the first few attempts at learning it... I would post a question to a newsgroup (back in the mid 90's) be told to RTFM or go buy someone else's product, be told that that capability didn't exist and if I wanted it I should write it (me, Physicist, not coder) or (at best) just be ignored.

Honestly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270270)

I still feel like this entire linux lab thing is just a random PR gesture by Microsoft. It won't ever come to anything, they're just trying to make themselves look less menacing by going "See? We can use Linux too". Reading this guy, all I can think of is the old Steve Albini quote. [negativland.com]
After meeting "their" A & R guy, the band will say to themselves and everyone else, "He's not like a record company guy at all! He's like one of us." And they will be right. That's one of the reasons he was hired.

You Bet Those Answers Were PR Washed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270274)

Most of those answers are so gross I couldn't bear to read them anymore. They were PR washed for sure. In fact many answers sounld like advertisement from Microsoft. Lame

Change the chairs (5, Insightful)

Iriel (810009) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270277)

Personally, if I were in control of Microsoft, I'd want Hilf to be talking to the public instead of Ballmer. Ballmer gives talks about how much more secure Windows Server 2003 is compared to Red Hat 6 as a definative blow to all things Linux. On the other hand, I actually like this guy's position. While it's possible that it could just be PR to make us watch the left hand while the right is up to no, good, it is also quite possible that Hilf is genuine in his approach to technology. In either case, he comes off as a personality that is far more trustworthy than Steve. And trust seems to be a key ingredient in building customer/provider relations.

Just my two cents

Re:Change the chairs (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270472)

In either case, he comes off as a personality that is far more trustworthy than Steve. And trust seems to be a key ingredient in building customer/provider relations.

Oh come on, like anyone cares what Steve Ballmer has to say. Either a) the potential customer doesn't have a clue that Steve is flamebait or b) doesn't care. If the customer is already a Microsoft customer, they are already in a position not to care.

Just because a Linux user at Microsoft appeals to the Slashdot crowd doesn't mean he's the best person to be feeding bullshit to their customers. In fact, he's probably the worst person.

Re:Change the chairs (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270501)

Thats NEVER going to happen as long as Ballmer is still employeed.

Reason: Pure 100% politics.

Add that to Wiki

Re:Change the chairs (4, Funny)

Frostalicious (657235) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270552)

Personally, if I were in control of Microsoft, I'd want Hilf to be talking to the public instead of Ballmer.

This looks to be a good cop/bad cop routine.

Ballmer: We will crush linux, see OSS driven before us, and hear the lamentation of the geeks!

Hilf: Don't worry about him, can't we all just get along?

Re:Change the chairs (1)

KingBahamut (615285) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270574)

I suspect that this is largely the case because Ballmer is a nubmers man. Hes not a Technologist. Whenever you put an Accountant into that type of position thats typically the sort of behavior you get.

All Ballmer is doing is repeating information that was given to him. Hilf comes across as a lot more even. That I do aggree with.

Id liken the experience to what happened with Eisner at Disney. He too was a numbers man, not someone tied closely to the real people that run the business....

UNIX? (1)

daviq (888445) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270278)

If Microsoft gets further into UNIX, like Bill Hilf suggested then they would just need to clean up their code and they would have a great UNIX based OS.

Teeheehee (1)

SamMichaels (213605) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270319)

We definitely look at security technologies in OSS in general, including Linux...

Free debugging for their stole^H^H^H^H^Hborrow^H^H^H^H^H^Hlicen^H^H^H^Htop notch code.

What the other than is doing (5, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270333)

I don't doubt that there are a lot of people at Microsoft who really do make wonderful and innovative products and don't care one wiff if someone wants to use an OSS solution.

However, it's plainly clear that one hand isn't aware of what the other is doing. Here we have someone suggesting that Microsoft is about cooperating and being friendly towards the OSS community, which is probably true. Yet the upper management in Microsoft seems more content on crushing or marginalizing OSS rather than fostering the cooperation that a lot of the people in the company might feel.

I can understand this as the people lower on the totem pole probably get a flat salary and some stock options on occasion if they want them. The top brass makes money whenever the company sells an MS product and potentially loses out when someone tries OSS software. The guys making the same $40 (or whatever) an hour will make that same $40 whether or not John Doe runs Linux, Windows, or OS X. Granted that they would be laid off if no one bought Windows and the company went under, but that seems a little unreasonable at this point in time.

It's pretty clear though that there are some mixed and widely different viewpoints in the company. A lot of hardcore Linux people could easily write this off as more junk from the evil MS, but I actually feel that these are truthful answers that are believable. However, since Mr. Hilf isn't calling all the shots, it really doesn't matter how he feels. Microsoft upper management will generally tend to pursue tactics to get rid of Linux.

What a load of crap (2, Interesting)

nahpets77 (866127) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270336)

The theme of all his answers is basically 'there's room for all of us to coexist together in a Utopian paradise' blah blah... This comment in particular annoyed me (FTA):

One of the primary reasons Linux is somewhat inferior to commercial offerings when considered as a general-purpose desktop operating system is that there is a lack of a single guiding human interface standard for the various groups to work toward. Companies such as Apple Computer and Microsoft have invested large amounts of money in human interface studies, and although much of this information has been made readily accessible to the public, it would appear that very little of that information has been put to good use by F/OSS developers.

Speaking for myself, I find KDE to be far more pleasurable to use than the current WinXP interface. If you look at the progress KDE has made since WinXP came out, it's pretty obvious who's making good use of human interface research and who isn't. Need I mention Firefox and tabbed browsing??

Re:What a load of crap (1)

mottie (807927) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270400)

I think you're over reacting. That portion of the document appears to be in italics and the Bill: portion begins AFTER that. Making me believe that you're angry at the question asker, not the answerer..

Re:What a load of crap (1)

nahpets77 (866127) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270489)

Yeah... still, it's part of the article, and I've seen that FUD before about how Linux GUIs are inferior to Windows, when in fact, the choice of desktop managers is astounding on Linux.

This one is from Bill though:

But you raise a good point, which is: can there be a positive reciprocal relationship between Microsoft and the OSS development community? I strongly believe the answer is "Yes" and I spend a lot of time trying to help this relationship mature. There is a great amount we can learn from one another, and we have just begun to explore the potential of this relationship.

These kinds of statements make me wonder how dumb MS thinks we are. Do we really believe that MS doesn't want to crush Linux and OSS? Have they ever played fair with *anybody*?

I guess I'm just tired of hearing how great the *next* version of Windows is going to be, etc, etc. I got tired of waiting and switched to Linux... Hopefully, more people will do the same.

Re:What a load of crap (3, Insightful)

bloggins02 (468782) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270415)

If you look closely you'll realize that was written by the original question submitter, not Hilf.

Re:What a load of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270441)

Way to misrepresent amper's comments as Hilf's.

Re:What a load of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270535)

The theme of all his answers is basically 'there's room for all of us to coexist together in a Utopian paradise' blah blah... This comment in particular annoyed me (FTA): One of the primary reasons Linux is somewhat inferior to commercial offerings when considered as a general-purpose desktop operating system is that there is a lack of a single guiding human interface standard for the various groups to work toward. Companies such as Apple Computer and Microsoft have invested large amounts of money in human interface studies, and although much of this information has been made readily accessible to the public, it would appear that very little of that information has been put to good use by F/OSS developers. Speaking for myself, I find KDE to be far more pleasurable to use than the current WinXP interface. If you look at the progress KDE has made since WinXP came out, it's pretty obvious who's making good use of human interface research and who isn't. Need I mention Firefox and tabbed browsing??
You are aware that this comment was part of the question and not the response, right?

Re:What a load of crap (2, Insightful)

Iriel (810009) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270537)

All blame issues aside concerning who asked, there's another piece of the UI puzzle to be considered:

You seem to enjoy using KDE (so do I, actually) and while it has come very far in a relatively short period of time (if my information is correct), it's more than just the look that makes a UI. For example, Joe Sixpack likes no-strings-attached binaries, not tar.bz2 files or .rpms that could have some insane dependancy problems. I think the majority of debates about User Interface that compare Linux/Mac/Windows/Whatever is not just how it looks or it's features, but a matter of out-of-the-box usability. In the current state of Linux, the average Joe Sixpack doesn't think it's all that usable yet. Not that it can't be, but there is still work to be done. Just my opinion.

FUD FUD FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270358)

FUD FUD FUD

Architecting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270359)

He seems a quite intelligent and otherwise well spoken chap, but what gives with the use of such idiotic tech-speak?

Architecting?

Argggghhhh....

submitted patch's description (1)

mottie (807927) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270362)

here is the info from the gaim patch..

I didn't test this at all, so if it doesn't work, I'm going to send my girlfriend's dog after you (it's a chihuahua!).

not the typical microsoft readme!

Re:submitted patch's description (1)

robslimo (587196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270445)

That patch comment was made by the GAIM developer who was given the patch by the MS tech. He's saying he took the patch blind - didn't test it, but apparently trusted the Microsoft guy enough to accept it on faith.

Verbing words (1)

sudotcsh (95997) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270363)

FTI:

I've seen what we're architecting.

Architect...ing? Maybe I've not had enough coffee this morning but this is by far the most odd verbing I've seen lately.

Well isn't that special (2, Funny)

Recovering Hater (833107) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270369)

Asking Microsoft how it feels about Linux? Isn't that like asking Castro how he feels about Florida? or something...

Keep you friend close... (5, Insightful)

IA-Outdoors (715597) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270373)

but your enemies closer. You have to remember that MS is in this for the bottom line and Linux and OSS is eating into their bottom line. While the answers given seem to show some sort of appreciation for Linux and OSS, I would say it is really less appreciation than respect for an enemy. To MS's credit, they are finally giving in that there is something to be learned from the various practices in the OSS world.

Has Gates *really* tried Firefox? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270378)


Have you ever managed to get any of the big shots (for example, Gates) to sit down and try Linux for a few minutes? If so, what did they say? If not, why not? Did they have an allergic reaction and try to run away from you, or have you not asked?

Gates claims to have tried Firefox [bbc.co.uk] :

"I played around with it a bit, but it's just another browser, and IE [Microsoft's Internet Explorer] is better."
If is this the case, then why does the IE7 beta include so many features from Firefox/Opera like tabbed browsing and support for RSS feeds?

Statements like this coming out of Microsoft make it difficult to believe that you're being honest with us. Every single person that I've shown Firefox to, no matter what their background, has switched over and not gone back. What's unique about Gates?

Have him spend a few hours mangling his stylesheets so IE can understand them, and then let's see what he thinks about IE.

interesting (1)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270392)

Well at least one person at microsoft realizes that making a product that is usable and interoperable with other software will in the long run help microsoft, not hurt it. Hell, if I didn't have so much hate for microsoft as a company and they included a unix layer in windows vista, i'd be willing to run it!

SFU in Longhorn (1)

thenerdgod (122843) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270411)

That was the interesting part. What they NEED to do is update the libraries and development options in SFU so you can just port all your "unix" programs to Lonhorn's "unix" layer. Talk about embrace and extend...

Not out to exterminate LInux (-1, Flamebait)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270412)

So, no, Microsoft is not out to exterminate Linux or Open Source,

Yeah, and Hitler told the Jews to just cram into the ovens for a nice "shower".

Re:Not out to exterminate LInux (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270577)

Wow. Lots of Microsoft fanboys moderating today. Microsoft must have sent their account holders here to squelch anything questional as "flamebait".

Included by default... (2, Funny)

segfault7375 (135849) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270455)

Microsoft has long offered Services for Unix free for download to provide a unix-like environment on Windows. I've seen rumors and speculation that SFU will be included by default in Windows Vista...

I think what he meant was that Windows Vista is going to include a lot of STFU by default :)

Question 5 (0)

bleckywelcky (518520) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270463)


From Question 5:

Believe it or not, I use more different types of OSS here at Microsoft than I've ever used before. Our team uses over 40 different flavors of Linux and BSD, plus several commercial Unix variants. Beyond this, we use an ever-growing number of OSS applications. In my spare time, I'm even learning some stuff about Windows J

What is this "Windows J" he speaks of? Is this the code name for the real next version of Windows (since Longhorn is due out in 2042)?

so he said nothing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270484)

I could not find *any* specification on what he is actually doing, besides he is 'studying'.

RE: Open Source from Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13270513)

"In fact, Microsoft has benefited from OSS, has participated in OSS projects, and feels that OSS will continue to have an important role in the ecosystem."

Can anyone here name any examples of Microsoft's participation in OSS projects?

Bill Hilf is everything he seems (2, Informative)

protosage (752297) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270523)

Having seen Mr.Hilf in person, and had a chance to chat one on one, I think that MS is doing great by the OSS comunity by having Bill on staff. His style is very even handed, and he's objective to a fault. I try to keep a very cenetered aproach to OS,Software dev, and philosophies associated with them. I find Bill's perpesctive refreshing and helpful.

Yeah, right (1, Troll)

mshiltonj (220311) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270529)

So, no, Microsoft is not out to exterminate Linux or Open Source...

I should have stopped reading right there, knowing the whole piece is spin.

Well, Bill (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270536)

You seem to be a really nice guy, but

Microsoft's participation in standards bodies such as IETF, W3C and OASIS, and our royalty-free contributions of technology to Web Services standards supports this commitment.

You don't really wanna tell the /. croud that your answers didn't run through Microsofts PR department; now would you?

VHS, not VCR (1)

drcoopster (539672) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270546)

VCR describes the machine -- Videocassette Recorder VHS is the format.

Cognitive Dissonance (1)

jusdisgi (617863) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270553)

One thing Microsoft knows well is the art of 'co-opetition' - competing and also cooperating.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm having a hard time reconciling this statement with internal emails that say things like "cut off their air supply."

PR influence (2, Interesting)

nuffle (540687) | more than 9 years ago | (#13270560)

In case you're wondering what influence the PR people had, you can look for things like: Did he mention any specific strength or compliment of a specific Free/OS project? E.g. "GAIM is a great IM client..." Did he mention any specific ways that MS can learn from OS development approach? E.g. "OS development has taught us the importance of..."
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