Friday, September 18, 2009

Microsoft's Open Source Strategist Is Leaving

IT MAY COME AS A SURPRISE to learn that Microsoft has any kind of open sauce software strategy aside from stomping on any bunch of commie hippies daring to offer free alternatives to its market-monopolising software, but it seems that one respected member of the Redmond braintrust has been working tirelessly for the last three years in an effort to make the software behemoth play nice with the other slightly grubby children in the playground.

Sam Ramji, who is currently the vocal spokesvole for all things open sourcery at Microsoft, is moving on to pastures new at the end of this month and he leaves behind an interesting legacy. More importantly his departure will leave a gap that might prove difficult to fill.

Sam's official brief was to create a strategy that enabled Micrososft to 'co-exist and thrive in a heterogeneous IT world' but his legacy goes way beyond that. The company originally had a single department that dealt with free open source (FOSS) software but, according to one Microsoft insider, it is now an important part of many product groups and strategies across the company.

Ramji's job was never going to be easy. The biggest software company on the planet had a nasty reputation for making life difficult for any upstart that tried to muscle in on its turf. There was never any real evidence that Microsoft would use strong-arm tactics to undermine fledgling companies, but when you have unlimited access to some of the world's most tenacious and ruthless lawyers and a bottomless pit of cash to throw at patent disputes, someone is gonna cry 'bully' sooner or later.

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