Microsoft uses open source? OMG, LOL and what not

Sometimes I read something in the "tech press" about Microsoft and get endlessly annoyed. I may have decided to leave the company, but quite honestly it's a lot like the feeling you get when you graduate from college. For better or worse, it'll always be a part of you and you'll always identify yourself as some part of it.

So ZDNet posts some drivel about blogs and such from Microsoft, and gets it wrong right off the bat:

"But the Microsoft blogs are the 'official' place to get detailed information; sometimes prepared and checked by the lawyers, more often posted directly by the developers working on the technology."

Really? I know a lot of people who work at Microsoft who have blogs, and they're not bouncing anything off of lawyers. Believe it or not, the company generally seemed to trust people to not do stupid things. The company is not as dumb and slow as people might like to think. It's also worth mentioning that many Microsoft employees host and pay for their own blogs, and a lot of people on these blog sites (MSDN,, etc.) don't work there at all.

That was just the part setting the tone that annoyed me. It was later in the piece where they express shock and awe (and then backtrack) over the use of open source at Microsoft.

"There's always a lot of suspicion when Microsoft is involved with open source, but this is a classic example of what open source is really good for..."

I hate that statement, because it comes off as an underhanded compliment. I read, "The evil Microsoft is trying to crush something, but it's cool because open source is a good force in the universe." There is not "always" suspicion, just suspicion when you're link-baiting. Mission accomplished.

Let me break it down for you in real terms. People like Matt (the developer who posted his experience about developing and deploying RequestReduce) at Microsoft are not cogs in the machine who mindlessly do as they're told and chant "developers developers" all day. In fact, Matt was one of the guys I worked with. We'd all go to lunch together (we had a DL called "deveats") and talk about whatever, make fun of our coworkers and often talk about poop (several of us had young children). We used all kinds of open source stuff in our apps, and obviously many of us contribute to, or maintain OSS projects. And by the way, the people who work there are probably smarter than everyone you work with, but would never admit to it.

My point is that actual human beings work at Microsoft, and this perpetual stereotype of the evil Uncle Fester working at the top to crush everyone is stupid and lame. It's also very tired. For all of the unfounded toxicity directed at Microsoft, the same people sure do get excited to see it on your resume.


  • Microsoft has 90,000 people working for it, and something like 70,000 contractors and vendors. Do you honestly think that there's some collective effort to thwart open source among all of those people? Of course they don't open everything they have. It's a software company. It makes money by selling software.

    As for the guy who got fired, I think that qualifies under the bucket of "don't do stupid things."

    Believe whatever you want. Microsoft has committed to contributing to jQuery in favor over its own AJAX library. It funds Orchard and CodePlex. It releases code for ASP.NET MVC. The facts are right there in front of you if you choose to open your eyes.

  • I love that you are helping us realize the truth. I mean, I never understood the belief that Microsoft is against open source anyway.

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