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What we really don't need to hear from Microsoft at OSBC

Microsoft has a historic chance to say something meaningful. Will it rise to the occasion at OSBC?

Microsoft may well be the last company in the universe still fighting open source. As such, it won't be surprising, as former Microsoftie Stephe Walli laments, that Microsoft's keynote at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) is consumed with gushing eulogies of patent covenants of yore, solemn proclamations of Microsoft's embrace of "openness," and so forth.

We're smart enough to look past cheap proclamations to ask for tangible evidence of change. Over the course of the 90 minutes with Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, I hope to engage Microsoft with a real dialogue about its role in an increasingly open software world.

The keynote format is designed to give Microsoft a half-hour to present its case, and then a full hour (broken up into two 30-minute segments) for a distinguished panel and then the general audience to "cross-examine" Microsoft's arguments. I have profound respect for Brad and his abilities. I have no doubt that he'll present Microsoft in the best possible light. He's a credit to his company.

But without that elusive substance behind the words, Microsoft's keynote will have been wasted. Here's hoping that Microsoft will not waste its time...or ours.