Little known to the outside world, Microsoft has been putting
together a research team of academics and think tank luminaries to
address the future of computing.
The team, Microsoft Research, now numbering some 300 and slated
to grow to over 500, is being lead by Richard Rashid, formerly of
Carnegie Mellon University and the main force behind the Mach
operating system, first developed in the 80's and still used today
in several high-end UNIX variants.
A satellite group to the main team in Redmond is in San
Francisco and is called the Bay Area Research Center (BARC) led by
Jim Gray and famed computer architect from Digital Equipment Corp.
Gordon Bell. BARC's mission is to study scalable systems. BARC has
already built and demonstrated to the public last year the
TerraServer, a huge cluster of Alpha-based servers.
According to Rashid, "One of the things we're trying to do is
get to the next level in distributed systems.... We're working
really hard to get technology into the products."
Because Microsoft Research is staffed by former academics and
researchers, it represents a major opportunity to introduce the
powerful ideas of Open Source(tm) development into the Microsoft
If you know someone working for Microsoft Research, you may be
able to do the Free Software community a great service by showing
him or her a tool like Perl that they will certainly find useful in
their work and then going on to explain how a tool like Perl gets
developed even though it is not supported by a research and
development budget such as they enjoy.
Working in this way, we may soon find members of the Microsoft
staff making significant contributions to Free Software projects in
their spare time and Free Software being more and more used by
Microsoft personnel in the course of their work.
Over time, Free Software use will change the culture of
Microsoft until finally even management sees the advantages of the
Open Source model, even as IBM and Oracle are seeing it today.
In contrast, making Microsoft the Great Satan will only widen
the rift and delay the day when Open Source will be universally
accepted as the best model for software development.
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