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If Microsoft has a beating heart then the senior director of Microsoft platform strategy Sam Ramji reckons he's found it.

Where's that heart? Inside Microsoft's open source activities.

Ramji believes Microsoft's recruitment of doers from the world of open source and their placement inside its Open Source Software Lab means Microsoft has the experience and commitment to support Linux and open source and work on their interoperability with Windows for the long term.

These doers include the former IBM Linux kernel engineering manager and Linux Foundation and Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) engineering director Tom Hanrahan.

"I feel like we've got a beating heart that is the core of what we are going to be doing for the next couple of years," Ramji told the chap leading Sun Microsystems' own relationship with the GNU/Linux communities Barton George in a podcast recorded at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON).

Speaking separately to The Reg at OSCON, Ramji said he's also been telling Microsoft's sales and marketing people how the company can work with open source. The argument goes a little like this: open source applications can be made to run well on "infrastructure software" like Windows and SQL Server and there can be interop with Linux, and Microsoft can still make money.

Ramji said he's "helping employees understand it's not about allegiance to Visual Studio. The community is building applications using Emacs and Zend". In the past, Microsoft had made the mistake of not being agnostic. He recounted how he got a phone call that Microsoft risked losing the Open University as a Windows customer to Linux simply because it was bringing in open-source content management system Moodle.

"We need to engage with Windows administrators - this stuff runs on Windows," Ramji said.

For more from Ramji on how Microsoft surrendered sovereignty to the Open Source Initiative, on chief executive Steve Ballmer's apparent rapprochement with open source - just don't mention the "L" word - and how Microsoft won't be open sourcing Windows, you can download George's 11 minute podcast here

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