Sam Ramji

“In 1995, Microsoft was the company that missed the Internet. In 2005, I don’t think you could say that. It was the company that missed open-source. In 2015, I don’t think you’re going to be able to say that. That’s my vision and the timeline I’m working on.”

After relaying an anecdote about taking the IIS PM aside, showing him Apache running things 10x faster and having him say, “No, no, that’s just not possible”, Sam said, “Sometimes we have to take people aside and tell them that their baby is ugly.” This mission comes down from Steve Ballmer — rubbing it in our noses when open-source is better than our product — and we take it seriously.

Sam spent a lot of time talking about how Microsoft wants to play nice with OSS, they want to interop to please the customer, but the audience didn’t let him off easy. Many folks asked heated questions about Samba / SMB2, lack of Vista interop with OS X, and so forth. Sam did a good of parrying and generally keeping his composure. Finally when he was backed into a corner he said, “Look, its not 2015 yet, but we’re trying to improve and we’ll get there.”

“Would I like to contribute to Samba? You bet. Am I constrained by the fact he testified against us in the EU and the general politics between Steve and Jeremy? Yes. My hands are tied. That sucks. If Jeremy [Allison] would just shut up, I could help him, but that’s a different issue.”

Various OSS projects from Sam's team

“I’m on [this big fancy expert group on Interop involving the UN and others] and I’ve never heard that interop with OS X is important.” An audience member interjected, “I can’t believe that!” Sam: “Please believe that I’m being honest with you.” Audience member: “I believe you, I just find the reality sad [that you haven’t heard what is such an obvious need in the community.]”

Q: “Why can’t you spend some of your time committing code to Firefox?” and “If Firefox is a competitor, why would you contribute code to Firefox?”

If someone upgrades to Vista because they hear that Firefox runs better on Vista than on WinXP, I’m happy with that. BitTorrent is an immensely popular Windows application; if we can make it run better on Vista [thus driving upgrades], I’m happy with that.

Q: “I assume you come into conflicts with the product teams.”

I don’t report to them. I don’t care what they say. “I’m making decisions based on a rational plan. If individuals in vertical silos [don’t see the big picture], that’s not my problem.”

70% of apps are developed with PHP. Under 20% of those deployments are to Windows Server. Those are terribly economics for us. We did some analysis, we talked to Zend, and the answer was the community saing, “Well, we just didn’t know how to optimize our code on Windows.” Was that all? We decided to take some real-world PHP applications, we’re going to optimize them on Windows, compare them to Linux, and make you cry. We find the performance on II6 was really bad. Like ten times worse than the same hardware on Linux. You’d have to be insane to run this on Windows.

Bill Staples threw the team into overdrive to try and fix this problem. Linux lets you fork processes for very low cost. On Windows, its the opposite; we prefer threads. With PHP, our libraries aren’t thread-safe, so to scale, you spawn processes. This was the root of the problem. So Bill’s team implemented some of the same performance optimizations that we had used to target .NET code to target PHP. The end result is IIS7 on Longhorn will be dramatically improved to run PHP.

Everyone remembers one number about Microsoft: $44B, what we made at the end of June ’06. People forget the other number: 96%. That’s the amount of our revenue that comes through indirect channels. We’re the last people in the chain to get paid. There’s no real difference between that model and how most open-source companies make money. Open source is a huge opportunity for us to make money selling servers and infrastructure.

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