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Microsoft to 'open the doors' of Linux labs

Microsoft plans to launch a Web site to share the activities of its internal Linux laboratories, an effort to sample feedback from customers who combine Microsoft and open-source software.

Bill Hilf, general manager of platform technology strategy at Microsoft, is expected to discuss the Web site, called Port 25, at a keynote presentation on Thursday at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in Boston. The site is scheduled to go live at 6 a.m. PDT Thursday.

LinuxWorld Boston 2006 roundup

The software giant--and fierce Linux foe--runs a 300-server Linux installation at its Redmond, Wash., headquarters to do competitive analysis and test how open-source products, including Linux, work with Microsoft software.

The goal of Port 25--named for the router port number corporations use for Internet e-mail--is to foster more communication with Microsoft customers that use open-source software, Hilf said. "We're opening the doors to what we do in the Linux labs," Hilf said Wednesday. "The most important opportunity is to get feedback." Hilf and members of his technical team will write blogs, including a recounting of how Hilf established the lab. The lab was an assigment from Martin Taylor, a Microsoft executive formerly in charge of formulating Microsoft's strategy to combat the rise of Linux.

Customers will be able to submit requests to Microsoft employees. For example, a person could ask how to best test the use of Linux desktops working with Microsoft's directory software.

In addition, Port 25 will do video interviews with Microsoft employees with experience in the open-source or Unix world, Hilf said.

Microsoft competes against open-source products, such as Linux and open-source databases, and is generally opposed to open-source licenses, which give people access to a product and its source code for free. However, the company has made efforts to make its software work better with open source. Hilf said Microsoft's product groups use the Linux labs to test how well upcoming Microsoft software, such as Windows Vista, will work with Linux and other open-source wares.

"I usually say if you can survive in the wilds of the lab, you're going to have a good shot at running well in a non-Microsoft environment," he said.

Microsoft to 'open the doors' of Linux labs - Thursday, April 06, 2006 -

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