Open Source Industry Expert Defends Decision to Join Microsoft

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 11, 2008

Proving the old adage "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," Microsoft has hired another open source expert whose primary responsibility will be to work on "consumer, enterprise and government identity problems." Dick Hardt, founder and CEO of Sxipper, Inc., will stay on as Chair of the identity management company, and take on the title of Partner Architect at Microsoft.

Sadly, one of the first things Hardt felt compelled to do was explain that he's not "selling out" to Microsoft. In a blog post, he explains, "Well, I don’t think I have sold out. I was recruited to Microsoft because I am an independant thinker. I have worked with open source and internet technologies for 15 years — and at ActiveState, bridged the gap between them and Microsoft. There are many people I respect in the identity space that are working at Microsoft, and that are doing 'the right thing'."

When open source industry experts get on board with a company like Microsoft, it mystifies me that people automatically assume the worst. It seems to me that people with a deep, abiding enthusiasm for open source are exactly the type of people who should be involved in corporations where they have the chance to help effect a sea change.

Hardt isn't the first open source guru that Microsoft has hired, and he undoubtedly won't be the last. Rather than expect people to defend their decisions, news of these new hires ought to be embraced. The more people who are in a position to advise Microsoft and other propriety software vendors, the better, right?