I hadn’t heard about Microsoft’s Shared Source program until I listened to this interview.
Many people have urged Microsoft to contribute more of its software code under an open source license, but few offer more informed advice on how to do it than Stephen Walli. While at Microsoft, Walli helped the company explore moving beyond more restricted shared-source software licensing schemes to freer GPL-oriented projects such as WIX. As such, Walli offers a unique perspective on Microsoft’s gradual acceptance of open source. Now an executive at a stealth startup with a software-as-a-service aspect and open source infrastructure, Walli in this conversation urges Microsoft to contribute far more into open source, and cites the new release of SQL Server as an example. Walli says why this type of contribution would benefit the company, and why attempting to liberate core Windows or Office software assets would be much harder. Walli also discusses patent issues raised during Microsoft’s recent agreement to work with Novell and its SUSE Linux distribution. Walli also takes issue with the Open Source Initiative’s Open Standards Requirement. He also comments on the legacy of Microsoft’s shared source initiative, its Open Specification Promise, and his optimism regarding GPL version 3.
Stephen Walli has worked in the IT industry since 1980 as both customer and vendor. He is currently CTO and vice president of engineering at a new stealth start-up. Previously, he was vice president of open source development strategy at Optaros, Inc. through its initial 18 months. Prior to that he was a business development manager in the Windows platform team at Microsoft, working in the space between community development, standards, and intellectual property concerns. Before joining the platforms business team, he was a program manager on Rotor, the shared-source implementation of the ECMA Common Language Infrastructure standard on Windows and FreeBSD.