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Microsoft hires an open-source identity expert

Company adds yet another open-source expert to its supposedly proprietary fold, suggesting that Redmond is finally serious about such issues.


Microsoft, long the bastion of proprietary thought, is increasingly adding open-source DNA to the fold. And it's adding to its roster of open-source veterans: Dick Hardt, founder and CEO of Sxip Identity and ActiveState, announced on his blog earlier this week that he will be joining Microsoft:

I will have the title Partner Architect and will be working on consumer, enterprise and government identity problems. My open source, open web and digital community experience will continue to guide my thinking. For me, this is an opportunity to work on the identity problems I have been toiling over for the last six years, but now with massive resources.

Hardt insists that this isn't a sell-out move (He likely doesn't need the money, having sold ActiveState to Sophos a few years back), arguing that he "was recruited to Microsoft because (he is) an independent thinker." He's probably right. Microsoft has been seeking to bring more contrarian outside counsel into the company in the past year or two. The fact that Hardt won't "fit right in" is probably a big selling point to his hiring manager.

As noted above, Hardt won't be alone. Microsoft now employs Bill Hilf, former Linux technical strategist for IBM; Sam Ramji, a former executive at Ofoto which was a heavy user of open source; Bob Duffner, another IBMer who worked with its open-source Gluecode acquisition; Rob Conery, founder of MPL-licensed SubSonic; Tom Hanrahan, former technical lead at the Linux Foundation; Daniel Robbins, former chief architect of Gentoo Linux; and more.

It's a clear trend, though clearly these hires constitute a tiny minority of total Microsoft employees. Even so, "a little leaven leavens the whole lump," to quote Paul's words to the Galatians. Here's hoping that Hardt and the others will continue to make headway within Microsoft on open-source issues.

News on Hardt first found via Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet.