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LinuxWorld Novell's recently unpopular chief executive was doing more than reading from a crudely scripted speech when he told LinuxWorld to get with the program and deal with Microsoft and mixed source.

Ron Hovsepian's keynote employed words that would have been considered heresy during the scandal-wearing glory days of LinuxWorld in San Jose, but today they raised barely a flicker, demostrating two important things.

Microsoft remains a force to be reckoned with in business and consumer computing and - as a result - Linux vendors are simply following the money by doing deals with the Redmond Beast.

Open source server and desktop companies in and around Silicon Valley are now being captained by executives who are either hardened by years of pushing the Linux cause for slow returns or who see the advantages of interoperating with Windows and tapping into the company's massive customer base in mixed environments.

Zend Technologies chief marketing officer Mark de Visser told The Register his company plans PHP support for Microsoft's recently unveiled Silverlight cross-platform, cross-browser plug in, while also adding support for InfoCards to the Zend Framework.

InfoCards let users on Windows manage their personal identity, and Zend's support would give PHP developers a standard set of APIs for interoperability between multiple online services from a Windows PC or Live service. Visser did not provide a date for Silverlight or InfoCards support, but the work comes in the wake of Zend's work to speed performance of PHP with Microsoft's Internet Information Services (IIS).

SpikeSource, once held up by mega investor Ray Lane as an example of how the computing old guard is under treat, is also getting with the program, planning more work with Microsoft and other enterprise giants in a recognition of the industry's realities.

SpikeSource sells packages and services that integrate open source frameworks and technologies with middleware and applications. SpikeSource last month signed a deal with Microsoft to certify its integrations with open source content management, business intelligence and customer relationship management (CRM) on Windows.

SpikeSource's chief executive Kim Polese told us her company would eventually certify on all Microsoft's main infrastructure components. That's likely to include Microsoft's fast-growing SQL Server database, in addition to databases from Oracle and IBM, going beyond today's support for MySQL and Postgres. "We are working on the roadmap," Polese said.

SpikeSource and Zend follow contentious interoperability and licensing deals between Novell, Xandros and Linspire and Microsoft, along with recent years' interoperability deals between Microsoft and JBoss, SugarCRM and MySQL.

The traffic is not one way, though. Despite some psychotic outbursts from Microsoft's old-guard legal and management teams, the company's lower management in server and tools have recognized Microsoft must harness open source. Otherwise, it'll see its developer and runtime base slip away. Eighty percent of PHP applications are built on Windows but are not deployed on Windows, which means lost business and lost developers who'd otherwise help maintain and perpetuate the platform.

It was little wonder, then, that Microsoft's director of platform technology strategy Sam Ramji, was busy maintaining a ubiquitous presence at LinuxWorld, attending sessions, haunting the hallways and networking at the XenSource and embedded Windows receptions, in an apparent attempt to close the technology and PR gap that exists between Microsoft and the community.

Microsoft has been holding meetings with MySQL, potentially building on those companies' relationship. Of all the open source players right now, though, it's possibly Zend that holds the most powerful position - thanks to its status as a maintainer of the PHP language, integral to the LAMP and Web 2.0 scripting phenomena.

Microsoft is building a lightweight, easy-to-maintain and - theoretically - more secure web server, basically a cut-down and simplified version of Windows Server 2008 that'll run IIS 7.0 as something Microsoft is calling a "Server Core installation". This is clearly designed to help the Windows server rival Apache Web Server on the internet, and accounts for Microsoft's work optimizing IIS with PHP.

Microsoft has been working with Zend to devise a native interface for PHP on .NET, presumably to bring the scripting language to .NET, following in the footsteps of Ruby with IronRuby.

Zend's participation is important because, without it's input, Microsoft working alone could break PHP to run on .NET - a move that would cut PHP off from the community. Zend claims it's been approached by IBM and BEA Systems in recent years to optimize PHP to their Java runtimes, but that this would have injected extensions that would have forked the language and the community.

Despite the odd heated set back it seems that in the arena of Windows versus Linux combatants from both sides are more prepared to follow the money, and deal, rather than fight destructive religious battles.®

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