Well, I never thought I would see this – an engineer from Microsoft presents a keynote to open the third day of SCaLE and the crowd was completely civil about it. John Gossman of Microsoft Azure told the story of Microsoft’s evolving attitude to open-source software, in response to both external market forces and internal cultural change.
John emphasized that open source advocates need not to take his word for Microsoft’s changing attitude towards open source. Judge Microsoft by its actions and, by the attitude of the crowd present, the attitude of open source advocates towards Microsoft has changed as well. (Though John asks people to skip their “hell has frozen over” jokes… he’s already heard them all.)
Personally I’ve seen a reduction in the religious zealotry that used to permeate these discussions. Many developers in the open source world now approach Microsoft in a strictly merit-based manner. The old instinctive animosity is gone… but the Microsoft brand itself isn’t a plus, either. If a Microsoft open-source offering can’t stand on its own merits, the pragmatic developer moves on. It’ll take a lot more work to earn admiration from this crowd.
Don’t discount the progress, though. Having seen some of the attitudes firsthand in the past (and still present in some of the graybeard of the crowd) there’s been a lot. In this context, going from animosity to apathy is a big and healthy step. Will Microsoft work its way up to admiration? We’ll have to stay tuned.