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Ignore the patents and Ballmer thing

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Updated OSBC Microsoft has made a "tremendous commitment" to systems and file interoperability, according to its head of North American sales and marketing.

Robert Youngjohns on Wednesday called interoperability between Widows and Linux and support for open-file formats and open-source languages like PHP a business imperative.

He added Microsoft should be judged by its actions with support for PHP, not by its words - presumably statements by senior management on alleged violations of hundreds of Microsoft patents by Linux and open source.

"You have to judge us by our performance and actions, rather than what we said," Youngjohns said.

Speaking at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) Youngjohns, though, defended the company's freedom to create, license and prosecute on intellectual property and patents.

Youngjohns, who has been with Microsoft just over a year and was formerly Sun Microsystems' vice president of global sales, said Microsoft has a right to create IP - like IBM and others - and a duty to enforce those patents.

"We are not making those licenses onerous... many vendors have signed up for those licenses," he told the audience during a Q&A. "I believe it's our duty to enforce that [patents and licensing]. I don't see a problem with that, and I make no apology for that," he said.

Youngjohns is the latest Microsoft executive to appear at OSBC, following in the controversial footsteps of the company's chief legal eagle Brad Smith last year.

It was inevitable, therefore, that once his keynote finished and the mic thrown open to questions, the subject quickly turned to patents, given Microsoft's case against TomTom over FAT and smoldering claims that Linux and open-source violate 235 Microsoft patents.

Asked by OSBC director Matt Asay whether people should still be concerned about being locked into Microsoft, Youngjohns pointed to the company's recent track record.

"We have made a huge effort to get some of the document formats we have... accepted as formal standards in the industry. The fact we can support applications writing PHP and other open-source platforms is more evidence of that [commitment]," Youngjohns said.

"I believe that right now in the company there’s a tremendous commitment, it’s driven not by some theoretical construct. If we can position Windows Server 2008 and our web stack as the best possible web stack going forward then we will do better as a company. It’s driven by that simple commercial imperative and that goes through everything we do right now."

Bootnote

After years spent open sourcing its code with no discernable effect on its business or an end point beyond "make money", the cloud is Sun's new hope. Chief executive Jonathan Schwartz, the ideological captain behind Sun's open-source software strategy, has predicted Sun would make money in two ways by using open source in the its recently announced cloud.

The first is offering application and infrastructure "services" for those people who've downloaded OpenSolaris, ZFS, GlassFish and virtualization APIs during the last few years. Schwartz said Sun would roll out cloud-based services during the next nine to 12 months, and that these will be charged.

Ok, this is retreading Sun's mythical belief it can "monetize" developers and students who downloaded its APIs - a belief so far unrealized. It's the return of the Underpants Gnomes.

The second so-called opportunity is a little more in Sun's back yard: systems. According to Schwartz, Sun can sell combined network, storage and computing devices running its own open software on its Blade 6048 Modular Systems, code named C48.

Schwartz believes Sun can make money building public and private clouds, with the latter taking business from Microsoft Azure Services Platform. It seems Azure computing and storage system will only be hosted by Microsoft and you won't be able to run your own version of Azure.

Schwartz said Sun could serve those in telecoms, government and finance that are not permitted to send data and applications out of house thanks to government regulation or compliance issues. ®

This story has been updated to identify the C48 by name.

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