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Video Microsoft's Olivier Bloch Explains Microsoft Open Source (Video) 101

Most of us don't think of Microsoft when our thoughts turn to open source. This is probably because the company's main products, Windows and Office, are so far from open that just thinking about them probably violates their user agreement.. But wait! says Olivier Bloch, Senior Technical Evangelist at Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc., we have lots and lots of open source around here. Look at this. And this and this and even this. Lots of open source. Better yet, Olivier works for Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc., not directly for the big bad parent company. Watch the video or read the transcript, and maybe you'll figure out where Microsoft is going with their happy talk about open source. (Alternate Video Link)

Timothy Lord: So Olivier, a lot of people certainly do not associate Microsoft with open source very much, particularly at OSCON, and you’re an open source evangelist.

Olivier Bloch: I’m...

Tim: How does that work?

Olivier: I work for Microsoft Open Technologies, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft, working and bridging the Microsoft world and non-Microsoft world, working with open source communities and open standards. So it’s all about finding the right standards, making open source software run on Windows, run on the Microsoft Azure Cloud. And it’s also about making sure that when there is IP, there’s something that Microsoft could be open source, that we work on that and open source these technologies.

Tim: What are some examples of things from Microsoft that have been open sourced?

Olivier: A great example actually is WinJS. WinJS is JavaScript Library for Windows, that’s been designed for Windows apps to be developed with JavaScript. It provides graphical UI controls. It also provides data binding and other functionalities, that are proper to Windows in the beginning, but it happens to be that this technology can be used today because it’s open source on browsers for websites that can also be combined with Apache Cordova to make cross platform mobile applications using WinJS. That’s one of the examples of the big technology that is part of the core of the Windows app platform that’s been open sourced, so that it could go across platforms and help developer who use the exact same code and their own skills across the various existing platforms out there and we’re learning a lot and the objective is to actually accept contributions in that project and at the end of day these contributions will make it into the next version of Windows because that’s the same project that goes internally and externally, that’s the idea of that open sourcing of WinJS.

Tim: How do you keep things like licenses, open source licenses often they play certain restrictions on what you can redistribute, how do you reconcile things like closed source and open source and one eventual software package?

Olivier: Yeah. I think there’s from that perspective not being a lawyer, my perspective as a developer regarding that. The licenses are you know stating what the conditions are for using the code or whatever and so each time we look into them and say we can, we can’t or we want to know what, so it depends, so each time actually I don’t think there is a “a” license for open source, that’s my personal perspective. Each of them have their you know own perspective and own goals. At Microsoft Open Technologies being a wholly-owned subsidiary, we have that flexibility of being able to look into more things and interact with open source community. That doesn’t mean that Microsoft product groups cannot do the same thing, they can and actually they’re doing that. They are really looking into, hey, should we contribute to that open source project, will that help developers know developing for Windows. And if that’s the case, they go through the legal process of looking into the licenses. If that works for that specific group, for that specific project, then they go for it and you know that’s pretty about looking into licenses what they say and what they can and cannot do with that.

Tim: Do you find there’s a whole new culture that it takes within Microsoft to integrate open source?

Olivier: I think overall the culture is definitely evolving and following what the actual real reward is about and openness is one of the reality of the business today and it’s not just about using open source actually. I like what I like is the fact that we’re moving towards a place where we are also as Microsoft and as Microsoft Open Technologies looking into what are the right ways to open source that IP, that technology, to make sure that developers can build the apps they want to build and we’re still not in a position where we deliver the right tools, the right technologies to have great apps at the end of the day and if that’s about open sourcing some technologies like WinJS, let’s do it. That’s what’s the best for developers. Well, let’s go through that and let’s do it. Is that a radical change at Microsoft, I think it’s a progressive change, it’s happening, it’s like you know that’s what the industry is about today, so.

Tim: How about licenses, are they licenses that you favor, if you’re encouraging someone within Microsoft to perhaps to work on an open source project, otherwise you would encourage as the ones that most bridge the gap between the current and the potential?

Olivier: As I mentioned earlier, I think there is no one license that actually could fit all needs and as a matter of fact that we each time look into what is the right choice, because that specific communities using a specific license are just like, okay, why ask them to change that work for us, let’s contribute using that license. When it comes to open sourcing Microsoft code, we have different examples of different licenses used. The Apache v2 one seems to be one that is actually one working really well for us but there are other examples where we were leasing under different licenses and whether they are the Microsoft PL1 or the MIT or whatever, I think it’s all about really working with the community and it’s not about changing people’s habits, it’s about really finding what really works and what you see adequate and a license in that particular case for this particular community.

Tim: One last question, how pervasive is open source development now within the Microsoft culture?

Olivier: As of today I can’t say because it’s something that is like going on right now and what I realize, what I see that as the Microsoft Open Technology, as being part of the Microsoft Open Technology group, we are standing for excellence when it comes to open sourcing, when it comes to using open source and so of course when it comes to engaging with the communities and we are getting a lot of asks internally from various product groups, various developer teams, they’re asking us, okay guys, so how do we do that, what’s going on, what do we need to be careful about, what can we do, what can’t we do, so it has been something where there has been a process for long time at Microsoft to do open source and to utilize open source. I think it’s getting simpler, it’s getting also clearer because we are in the culture of developing in general and our developers they are coming from various domains, various areas and they are coming with their experiences, their desire to use things they have been using somewhere else. And so, yeah the culture is shifting and I see that’s in that contact from the product teams into MS Open Tech asking us about our consultancy related to open source.

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Microsoft's Olivier Bloch Explains Microsoft Open Source (Video)

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  • This is it. (Score:5, Funny)

    by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @04:17PM (#47616791) Homepage Journal

    Slashdot articles are now pushing Microsoft products. Everything is backwards from 1997.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jones_supa ( 887896 )

      Slashdot articles are now pushing Microsoft products. Everything is backwards from 1997.

      Times have actually changed. Microsoft software was mostly garbage in 1997. That's not true anymore.

    • Re:This is it. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @07:19PM (#47618325)

      someone, with their head in the sand for the past 20 years, is drinking too much MS-Koolaid for sure. Generally, Microsoft's open source lab or whatever they are calling it today has been all about training someone to move into marketing and develop material and methods to fight customer migrations to open source. They have a long history of this and because they would be DOA without Windows in the market, they can not afford to let or promote any kind of open source which does not lock vendors into Windows.

      Their history has been so filled with attacks on open source and open standards to believe anything they say. It's all marketing all the time.

      • I agree. Lets start with An Open Letter to Hobbyists [] by our good ol pal, William Henry Gates III from the date of Feb, 3 1976. Thirty eight years later and the mentality at Microsoft hasn't really changed much. Let's not forget the Halloween Documents [] back from 1998. How can we forget the Initiave for Software Choice [] led by our friends at Microsoft back in 2002. Dare anyone to forget the Microsoft Get the Facts [] campaign? Or how about Microsoft messing with OLPC []. How about the recent attempt at making us t
    • by Roblimo ( 357 )

      One generally isn't ironic/sarcastic when "pushing" a company or its products. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "not directly for the big bad parent company" - what exactly is the distinction made by that 1 level of parent company separation?

    • The parent company says open source is "a cancer".
      The subsidiary he works for says open source is what MS does, sign a NDA and you can see the documentation.
      Also, the subsidiary says, open source is when MS buys a trade group to have their patented format voted as a standard.

      That's the difference.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The parent company says open source is "a cancer".

        Clearly that's just something you heard about and are parrotting without understanding, so I will educate you: 13 years ago, then-CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer described "Linux" as a cancer. In actuality what he went on to describe was the GNU GPL and its provisions that including GPL'd code with other code requires that other code to be licensed under a GPL-compatible license. That is an entirely valid critique with a slip/misunderstanding that led to a

        • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @10:24PM (#47619511) Journal

          > wasn't talking about open source in general

          Quoting Ballmer:
                  If you use any open-source software, you have to make the rest of your software open source

          He went on to claim software written for or by the government shouldn't be open source because commercial companies are not allowed to use open source software.

          • PS, you are correct that he's a major shareholder. He controls more shares than Bill Gates, enough to swing any shareholder vote, thereby giving him de facto control of the board of directors and the company.

      • The parent company says open source is "a cancer".

        That was a decade ago and obviously that isn't the case anymore. Also it was said by Ballmer, I don't think anybody takes what he says particularly seriously.

  • Let's not forget one of the main sponsors behind H1B visas. They hate American workers and don't deserve to be part of our country.

  • by Nexus Unplugged ( 2495076 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @04:32PM (#47616951)
    ...and yet, all of Microsoft's flagship products, AFAIK, are the polar opposite of open source. If Microsoft truly thought anything of open source, this should not be the case.
    • by JonahsDad ( 1332091 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @04:41PM (#47617049)
      Roslyn should be considered a flagship product (you know, once it's released). It's open source. []
      • you forget... it'll never be released. Its job is to garner support, "hearts and minds" and then get all the best bits subsumed into the core of Microsoft closed-source products where you'll never see it again.

        then Roslyn will not be needed, can be left to die while they produce another open source project.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      Correct.... and ultimately... the reason for all their Open Source efforts is to promote the flagship closed source software such as Windows and IIS and help keep developers on their platform; they don't want popular "The Open Source Momvement" to mean that people who are onboard have to leave their closed expensive platforms.

    • What do you call a "flagship product"? Entity Framework? ASP.Net MVC? SignalR? Kudu? ASP.Net vNext? Roslyn? Katana?

      On the developer side, we are very well catered for in the open source arena by Microsoft.

      • In the Hadoop space, Microsoft has also worked with Hortonworks [] to expand the Apache Stinger, Tez, and ORC projects - among others.

        Granted, they certainly want to make sure Hadoop runs on Windows servers and Azure; but nobody says that open source has to be an entirely altruistic affair.

        • " but nobody says that open source has to be an entirely altruistic affair." Heresy. Around here we seldom use OSS unless we are talking about World War II, we always use FOSS and nobody pays for anything because Star Trek.

    • ...and yet, all of Microsoft's flagship products, AFAIK, are the polar opposite of open source. If Microsoft truly thought anything of open source, this should not be the case.

      That's a very absolutist viewpoint, by that logic if you though anything of open source the core components of your computer(s) would be open source hardware and you would run nothing but open source software. Some people fail to understand that you can be a supporter of an ideology without being an absolutist.

    • ...and yet, all of Microsoft's flagship products, AFAIK, are the polar opposite of open source. If Microsoft truly thought anything of open source, this should not be the case.

      Well, WiX is kind of a flagship product - it's embedded in Visual Studios, utilized by most all of their projects, and Open Source (originally GPLv2, I forget what the current license is).

  • This is old news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by celeb8 ( 682138 ) <> on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @04:33PM (#47616961)
    While MS is the company that everybody who ever liked MacOS or Linux loves to hate, it's been a long time since they've been actively hostile to open source, and they contribute quite a bit to it. Frankly it's been a long time since I've seen a good reason to dislike them any more than any other corporation in an adversarial relationship with a product I like.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      While MS is the company that everybody who ever liked MacOS or Linux loves to hate, it's been a long time since they've been actively hostile to open source, and they contribute quite a bit to it.

      You mean by charging royalties on code they don't own?

      Frankly it's been a long time since I've seen a good reason to dislike them any more than any other corporation in an adversarial relationship with a product I like.

      You mean, now that google fails at their own "don't be evil" credo, micros~1 must be ok again?

      They managed to squander any and all trust they might have had (gain a solid rep the other way, in fact), and recovering from that takes a long time and much more effort than a yearly dress up party complete with "look us, we're so pretty" press release.

      • They managed to squander any and all trust they might have had

        Anyone who "trusts" any large corporation is foolish at best, if you're describing the moral sense of the word. The only thing you can "trust" is for a corporation to do what's best for its own survival and bottom line. For the most part, especially in today's information-rich world, most companies - at least those who don't have government-sanctioned monopolies like many ISPs and cable providers - understand that pissing off large numbers of customers is pretty bad for business.

        You can generally trust a

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > it's been a long time since they've been actively hostile to open source

      Here is an alphabetical list for you just regarding the ooxml, just so that you understand the scale of the problem:

      It is hard to prove anything. But why would poor countries vote against free solutions. Why would small companies do a study that looks like FUD and makes Microsoft products look better compared to open source?

      • Why would rich countries vote against free solutions? Doesn't saving money make you even more rich? Why doesn't everybody use open source software? Who doesn't love superior products free of charge?
    • Re:This is old news (Score:5, Informative)

      by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @05:38PM (#47617559) Journal

      OOXML and the continued, though as yet unactioned, threat of patents over Linux both come to mind.

      Microsoft is still every bit as evil as it once was. The chief difference between now and the 1990s is that its market, at least on the consumer side, is shrinking. For now that means they're forced to live with major open source projects like Linux, but I refer you back to Ballmer's patent threats. If it really goes down to the wire, you don't think Microsoft would try to litigate Linux out of existence? After all, we already know it bankrolled SCO's attempts.

      Microsoft has never been, nor shall it ever be, a friend to open source. It hates it, fears it, is forced at times to cooperate with it, but you don't think there's a day that goes by that its executive don't wish open source would shrivel up and die?

      There's no change in sentiment, simply in ability to act on the sentiment. The mere fact that they're sending out their latest psuedo-FOSSite quisling demonstrates that Redmond is the same as it ever was.

    • by Dracos ( 107777 )

      MS is still actively hostile to open source, except now they're bipolar about it.

  • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @04:33PM (#47616967)

    The reason we don't think of MS when it comes to open source is because it is like being reminded of one's evil mother-in-law. You know she's out there, scheming, plotting. You know will have to deal with her one way or another. You know she'd like to steal your soul and sell it straight to Satan.

    • That and the sites are not really evidence of any contribution, other than pushing a glorified blog for collaboration.

    • At least we know the name of this scheme. It's called "Embrace, extend, extinguish".

      But perhaps that's not what this is about. Maybe it's a new evil scheme. "Embrace, extend, own"?
    • Hey! Don't insult my mother-in-law with that comparison.

  • Yeah, right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaveM753 ( 844913 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @04:35PM (#47616979)

    If it's Microsoft, it's a trap.

    (Apologies to any fish-headed gents in the crowd.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Who knows, maybe the tables will continue turning and Microsoft will become a sane, viable choice in the future.

    Posted AC because of trolls, fanboys and acesulfame potassium.

  • Hyperlinks (Score:5, Informative)

    by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @04:41PM (#47617059)

    Look at this []. And this [] and this [] and even this [].

    Raaawrgh. Not the "this, this and this" dance again. ;) Let me FTFY...

    "Look at Microsoft Open Technologies []. And .NET Foundation [] and a Computerworld article about Internet of Things [] and even Codeplex []."

    A good rule of thumb is that the sentence should be readable even without seeing which URLs the hyperlinks point to.

  • Next up (Score:4, Funny)

    by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @04:46PM (#47617093) Journal

    A youtube video from Iran's Culture Minister explaining Tehran Catholicism.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      or the borg explaining individuality.

    • To be fair, I'd rather be an ethnically-Persian-to-some-degree Jew or Catholic living in Iran than the equivalent in Palestinian controlled Gaza. The Iranians pride themselves on at least paying lip service to tolerating Persian Jews and Christians, as opposed to forming mobs and murdering them. For example, Iran actually has a Jewish member of Parliament. Of course, democratic/representative government there is basically a sham since it's all under the ayatollah.

      And yet, Iran is the most imminent threa
  • Halloween Documents (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @04:58PM (#47617183)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. I hope this gets modded up as it was a few years back and some people may never have heard of this. Part of a giant campaign at the time by Microsoft to undermine open source and free software...

  • by lippydude ( 3635849 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @05:14PM (#47617323)
    'In a CSI job posting in December [], Microsoft said candidates would need to be able to

    Win share against Open Source Software (OSS) in the cloud, on devices, and in traditional workloads by changing perceptions of Microsoft and winning the socket.”'

    The core of this role is to win mind-share so that Microsoft can win market-share.” ref []
  • Look at this. And this and this and even this

    This is nothing more than Get The Facts [] (version 3.0)

    A followup to their anti-Linux campaign and anti-Firefox campaign and then their anti-Google ("Scroogled") campaign saying "We're all open source and stuff".

  • So much hot air. So many words, yet nothing with any meaning was said.
    Never forget: embracing open source is just the first step in "embrace, extend, extinguish."
  • by Shaman ( 1148 ) <shaman@k[ ]net ['os.' in gap]> on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @06:37PM (#47618107) Homepage

    ...any time Microsoft has tried to pass itself off as reasonable and interoperational, it was a springboard attempt to find out who in the industry wants that from them, and then apply thumbscrews, handcuffs, hookers and blow as required to get those companies to see the world its way. That is, the Microsoft-centric, homogenous and locked-in up to their eyeballs, way.

    Never. Ever. Ever. Ever.


    NEVER EVER trust Microsoft. They are the most self-interested company in the history of companies. Even Oracle looks shiny compared to Microsoft.

  • Most of us don't think of Microsoft when our thoughts turn to open source. This is probably because the company's main products, Windows and Office, are so far from open that just thinking about them probably violates their user agreement.

    Or it might be because of statements like "Linux is a cancer" being made by the company's Chief Executive Monkey. Or the way they bulldozed their substantially-less-than-open MOOXML through when an actual open document format looked like it stood a chance of becoming a sta

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Last time I tested several software packages from CodePlex, it required Microsoft Windows and OS locked .NET framework to run. This breaks elegantly with freedom 0 in free software: The freedom to run the program for any purpose. My purpose was to run this software cross platform. Not only using Windows, but also see how it worked on Debian GNU/Linux ... It didn't stop there.

    The CodePlex applications I installed also added Adware to my different browser on Windows, me having no choice to reject if I would t

    • by mitzoe ( 2531020 )

      I suggest that developers restricting them self only to Windows, to broaden their perspective.

      Or, instead of complaining, go the open-source route and fork a project and port it to another platform.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Look kids! All those hand movements, the expression in the face, the tone of a salesman in action!

    Open Source Microsoft?


  • The problem for Olivier Bloch, Senior Technical Evangelist and Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. is that they are isolated. The parent company only tells them enough and shows them around enough so that he and others like him can say what they do with a straight face. Meanwhile, the left hand knoweth not what the right hand doth.

    I witness this a couple years ago at POSSCON. We had someone that had a similar position at Microsoft give a Keynote. He talked about all the things Microsoft did and everything

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.