Microsoft Offers to Help Firefox Devs Port Code to Vista

Microsoft executives may have a hard time talking about open source software without getting their blood up, but the company appears to be taking a pragmatic approach when it comes to Windows Vista and the growing popularity of the Firefox browser.

The company has opened its Microsoft Open Source Software Labs -- until now the domain of commercial projects -- to non-commercial open source developers. That revelation came this week when the labs' director made the offer on public Web sites, including and Google's

"I am the Director of the Open Source Software Lab at Microsoft, and I'm writing to see if you are open to some 1:1 support in getting Firefox and Thunderbird to run on Vista," states a post by Sam Ramji, the Microsoft lab director, on Saturday.

The lab, started two and a half years ago, features more than 300 servers running more than 15 versions of Unix and 50 Linux distributions, according to the lab's Web site, which is dubbed Port 25 -- a reference to the Internet port that typically carries e-mail communications traffic.

"As part of my mission as an advocate for open source applications on Windows, I've gotten spaces set aside at the Windows Vista Readiness ISV Lab," Ramji's post continued.

Microsoft will hold weekly four-day events in Redmond through December 2006. The company will provide secure office space for four people, hardware, VPN access and one-to-one access to product team developers and support staff.

Interested parties can find more information here.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.