Microsoft: The open-source company

Microsoft has long used open-source software, like the BSD code behind its original TCP/IP network stack, they just didn’t admit it. That was in Bill Gates’ day. It’s a different story today. Recently , Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that Microsoft loves Linux and Microsoft just acquired Revolution Analytics, which is the major open-source player for the R statistical analysis language.

What’s going on here?

Let me start by saying what’s not happening. First, there is zero, zilch, chance of Microsoft open-sourcing Windows or Microsoft Office. On the desktop, Microsoft will remain as proprietary as ever for the foreseeable future.

However, Microsoft continues to transform itself from a software sales company to a software service rental business with Windows as a Service. To power that, Office 365, and its other service offerings such as its Cosmos big-data service, Microsoft is relying on the cloud and it’s in that hidden engine behind its services that Microsoft is embracing open-source software.

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Librem 15, the first free software GNU/Linux laptop, makes funding goal

If you want a Linux on a laptop, it’s easy to install it yourself. You can also always buy one from a specialized Linux vendor such as System76 and ZaReason or even get a mainstream laptop, like the new Dell XPS 13 and 15 with Ubuntu installed. What you can’t do is get one with a minimum of proprietary firmware, until now.

Librem 15, the first free software GNU/Linux laptop, makes funding goal. More>

Sexism is alive and well in the tech world

When I first heard what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had said at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, I assumed it had been misreported.

Yeah, I know, me giving a Microsoft honcho the benefit of the doubt! What is the world coming to?

But it was difficult to believe that Nadella, when asked what advice he would offer women who are not comfortable asking for pay raises, would tell his audience of mostly technically savvy women, “It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise.”

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A shout out for the introverts

Developers like to think they’re extroverted. Chances are they’re not. A recent IDG study, Introverts vs. Extroverts: Is There an IT Personality?, found that just over half of IT workers are introverts. Only those engineers who mistakenly think they’re extroverted would find that surprising.

Now, before you take offense, to say that most IT workers are introverts (as defined by HR’s favorite personality inventory, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI) isn’t to say that they are the stereotypical computer nerd.

You know the stereotype I mean: An extremely bright, badly dressed, pudgy man with all the social graces of a bad-tempered alligator, who plays Dungeons and Dragons twice a week, can recite Monty Python skits and Star Wars scenes from memory, and can passionately argue that vi is better than EMACS and that only lusers run Linux since FreeBSD is the one true geek operating system.

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Microsoft heads back to the desktop

Microsoft has flopped on smartphones and tablets. At the same time, its Windows 8.x has continued to be such an abject failure, with a mere 13.4% share of the PC market, that it’s trailing even legendary fiasco Vista in market acceptance.

So what’s Microsoft to do?

Why, go back to its old playbook and kill profits entirely in the hope of regaining market share. Back in 2009 when Linux-powered netbooks were cutting into Windows’ market share, Microsoft brought back XP Home and almost gave it away. Simultaneously, Microsoft pushed Windows 7 out the door as fast as possible to replace Vista.

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