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LinuxWorld Expo New Haven for Corporate Users, Vendors - page 5

The New Breed of Expo Attendee

  • January 26, 2003
  • By Brian Proffitt

Somewhere out there is a picture of a classic historical irony: Peter Houston, Senior Director of Windows Server Strategy, getting an Open Source Product Excellence Award for Best Systems Integration from Penelope Penguin.

It is what we call a "grip-and-grin" in the news biz, but the sheer juxtaposition of the subjects of that photo make it truly interesting indeed.

By sheer luck, I happened to be sitting right in front of Houston when the award was announced. Surprised was not the word for his reaction--"stunned" comes to mind. He took part in the whole thing with good sport, which pretty much summed up Microsoft's public face at this Expo--good sports who wanted to get a feel for what the heck was driving people to Linux.

I spoke with Houston the next day, to get his thoughts on their view of the show thus far. They were expecting more developers than they actually met, he told me, and they were actually seeing more corporate IT decision makers than they expected.

The same thing had happened in San Francisco last August, Houston explained, where they has been "surprised to see the level of corporate advisors."

All in all, Houston added, the staff of the Microsoft booth was pleased with the level of depth in the conversations they were having at this show--something they did not always get at other trade shows.

But while Microsoft is politely checking out the lay of the land, don't expect them to give up on competing with Linux. They have received the message from their own customers, Houston explained, that "we should tell them the value of our products, rather than discuss other licenses."

The message has been received loud and clear, as Houston reiterated in the meeting that Microsoft still has concerns about how open sourced software would be able to address the needs of very complex projects.

But, Microsoft also knows that they won't be able to wish Linux away, and some of their tools reflect customer's needs to work in a heterogeneous environment. It was their Services for UNIX 3.0 tool that won the Systems Integration award, and it was one of the products their booth was talking about.

And, Houston said, it would a product that Microsoft would be talking more about in the future.

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