Microsoft's openness stressed

Microsoft's numerous accommodations, with products such as the company's M modeling language, cited by executive at ApacheCon conference

Expressing a now-familiar theme, a Microsoft executive at the ApacheCon conference on Friday morning touted Microsoft's efforts to be more open, highlighting moves such as offering the company's "M" modeling language under the Microsoft "Open Specification Promise."

During the New Orleans conference, Microsoft's Sam Ramji, senior director of platform strategy, stressed continuing accommodations for the open source world. Microsoft traditionally has been viewed as the opposite side of the coin from open source but has been preaching its open source epiphany at events such as ApacheCon and the EclipseCon 2008 conference in March.

Ramji touted Microsoft's "inclusion-based strategy" for growth. Companies such as HP, IBM, Sun and now Microsoft participate in open source to build sustainable business models, he said. Microsoft has to have its platforms include as many different technologies as possible, Ramji said. Growth is done through having more people find the platform interesting, he stressed.

Ramji noted the M language being made available under the Open Specification Promise, in which Microsoft agrees not to assert legal rights or patents over on implementations. M is part of Microsoft's Oslo modeling platform. Other efforts were noted, such as welcoming dynamic languages such as Ruby and Python onto Microsoft's technology platform.

"M to me is a possible realization of a lot of what I believe in," Ramji said. By serving as a meta language for developers to write specific grammars, such as a BPMN grammar, M could do for languages what open source has done for development, he said. Developers can write grammars without having to worry about whether they have structured a full language.

Domain-specific languages could be built for health care or an M compiler could be developed for Mono, which is a Linux implementation of Microsoft's .Net Framework., Ramji said. He invited ApacheCon attendees to consider the M specification.

Microsoft's Azure platform for cloud services, announced last week, also makes accommodations for open source languages such as Ruby, Java, and PHP, Ramji said.

"What (Microsoft chief software architect) Ray Ozzie has said about Azure is it needs to be inclusive, it needs to be open," Ramji said.

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Paul Krill

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