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[vox] [fwd] Microsoft Technology Summit 2006 (MTS06)
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[vox] [fwd] Microsoft Technology Summit 2006 (MTS06)

Interesting post seen on PenLUG tonight.  Enjoy!

----- Forwarded message from Peter Knaggs <peter.knaggs [at] gmail ...> -----

Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2006 22:33:10 -0700
From: "Peter Knaggs"
Subject: [PenLUG] Microsoft Technology Summit 2006 (MTS06)

Hi All,

I hope it's OK to talk about this sort of thing on the PenLUG mailing list.

First, let me try to explain what happened...

On April 10 2006, Microsoft hosted a four-day Technology Summit, to
which I was invited as a PenLUG representative. As you can imagine,
the invitation came as a surprise, especially given how much I've come
to depend on open-source to get things done, and how rewarding the
journey into learning about it has been and continues to be.

Initially, I thought the conference might be a marketing-style
distraction, but a quick google search revealed that last year a
similar event had taken place, and it sounded interesting. There
wasn't much time to think about it, but at the very least it sounded
like a good opportunity to meet other open-source folks. I accepted
the invitation, and intrepidly agreed to participate in the event.

After the event, I found it somewhat harder to describe than I'd expected.
Even documenting things with which one is familiar can turn out to be quite
time-consuming. Trying to explain events taking place over the course of four
days on the scale of this kind of meeting seemed quite a daunting task.

At first I thought it would be possible to write up the event as a static web
page, but then I realized that format would hardly be conducive to any sort of
future discussion, so I figured that plain old email discussion on our favorite
mailing list would be the best place to start.

On a meta-level, you may still be wondering what is going on, and why I'm
writing here about an event organised by Microsoft.  Not to worry...
I've been pondering the same question myself.

On one hand, perhaps the reason could simply be due to the effects of the
Principle of Reciprocity [1] [2].
  [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reciprocity_%28social_psychology%29
  [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reciprocity_%28international_relations%29

On the other hand, perhaps it could be because many of the presenters at the
event expressed a willingness to engage in more some meaningful communication
with the non-Microsoft software community, mentioning something to the effect
that everyone at Microsoft was being encouraged to engage in web logging.

At any rate, the impression I got was that they are genuinely interested in
becoming more involved on an individual basis. So I figured an old-fashioned
mailing list discussion would be just the ticket to get started.

Of course as you can imagine, I felt my "Linux Hints" antennae starting to
tingle. Although web logging is one way, there are many other ways to reach
out. Perhaps all the Microsoft folks need is a "Linux Hint" to get started?
Or maybe reading Eric Raymond's books would be better? How best to lure them
in to the discussion? Or do we even want to, given the time may be better
spent elsewhere?

If you think about how open source tends to be developed, with communication
using all sorts of mailing lists, many of which are publically archived and
searchable, you tend to find that by participating over time, individuals can
build a true online presence which can be quite different from their
"corporate/commercial" one.

Maybe the idea of building this kind of presence would be sufficient
motivation for Microsoft folks to participate? With a bit of luck, it
might even allow a more friendly and thoughtful technical approach to
solving the often prickly business issues. Even if the corporate camps
are too entrenched to allow this, it's still useful to have the
discussion out in the open.

I was initially surprised to be invited to an event of this kind, but soon my
bewilderment gave way to curiosity. The first evening, Microsoft hosted a
reception which gave us the opportunity to meet some of the other attendees.
That evening, I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet
  Jason McKerr         http://osuosl.org/
  Brian Ponterelli     http://www.inkdroid.org/reading/Brian_Ponterelli/
  Barton Massey        http://www.cirl.uoregon.edu/bart/
as well as many of the Microsoft Developer Evangelists including
  Anand Iyer           http://www.Artificialignorance.net
who you may already have met at some of our PenLUG meetings this year.

But enough with the name-dropping already, you say? Well, OK, I'll
add links (at the end) to the websites of the other fascinating folks who
attended. The entire event was superbly organised by Microsoft, and I
always felt welcome, albiet oftentimes out of my depth.

To give you an idea of how things were organised, each day was essentially
packed as efficiently as possible with presentations. All of the speakers gave
a sense of being deeply involved with their work and were able to convey their
excitement and interest in problem solving. The presenters were not only
extremely talented speakers, but were well prepared to answer questions from
the audience. The topic of licensing seemed to be one area where a little more
preparation could help, especially given the number of open-source developers
there were in the audience.

Jim Hugunin kicked things off by explaining how Microsoft worked with the
Python community to overcome some interesting Python language issues that
came up during the development of Iron Python http://www.ironpython.com/

It will probably take me quite some time to write up a more complete list of
what was covered, so in the meantime your best bet will be to search for the
"MTS06" tag using the Technorati engine, using the following link:

By the end of the first day, I felt almost as though we were being given a
glimpse into the goings-on of an entire parallel world. I suppose this is to
be expected: given that the most common business problems are the same, the
proprietary software developed to solve the problems will tend to involve
a substantial amount of repeated work.

>From my point of view as a software developer and open source enthusiast,
such an incredible amount of wasted duplication of effort by proprietary
software continues to be quite disturbing. Being exposed to even more of
it, and the cheerful obliviousness with which it was all going on, was
beginning to make be a little dizzy by the end of the second day of
presentations. Bill Hilf's presentation was very upfront about the reason
behind this, essentially that Microsoft engineers need to be rewarded
for the work they do. Fair enough explanation, given their frame of reference.
Anand reminded me that there were other reasons for it, in that Microsoft
products may not always be generic enough that they can be based on an
open-source code model, which tends to lead to the products being engineered
from the ground up.

The interesting aspect of all this "re-inventing the wheel" was not so
much the end result, but that the presenters were able to so clearly
explain the process used to get there. Sometimes it was not altogether
clear where "there" actually was. Chatting around later, I found that
other attendees, especially those from the Linux and Java communities,
often had similar puzzlement trying to even understand the frame of
the presentation. This was especially the case where big "enterprise"
frameworks like web services or protected "containers" for running
language-independent intermediate code were being described.

During the presentation of Microsoft's recent modifications to Internet
Explorer, the most noticable change was how similar the user interface is
becoming to Firefox, with tabbed browsing, a much simplified tool bar with
far fewer buttons, and the little internet search box over to the right of
the web location box. The security preferences screen appears to be still
very complicated compared to that of Firefox. The installation and update
procedures remain closely tied to the installation and update of the entire
operating system. Anand mentioned http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/ as a way to
keep up with what's going on.

One of the questions I was pondering while all this pure technology stuff
was being discussed: How will this kind of event help non-profit organisations
like Inveneo http://www.inveneo.org which really depend on open standards to
provide educational content, as well as a free operating system for their users?

Some of the other attendees at the conference were:

Tantek Celik         http://tantek.com/

Brian Behlendorf     http://brian.behlendorf.com/
Assaf Arkin         
Christopher M. Judd  http://www.juddsolutions.com
Reg Cheramy          http://www.zigtag.com
Brian Ponterelli     http://www.inkdroid.org/reading/Brian_Ponterelli/
Barton Massey        http://www.cirl.uoregon.edu/bart/
Christian Wenz      
(sorry, forgot name) http://www.escherinstitute.org/

I'll try to get more details written up
on the presentations themselves, although
it may take me some time.


----- End forwarded message -----

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