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Meet the Head of Microsoft’s Linux Lab
Meet the Head of Microsoft’s Linux Lab: “Bill Hilf is the techie behind Microsoft’s Linux listening post. He also is a key player in Microsoft’s evolving strategy to reach out to the open-source community.
Hidden away in Building 17 — when he’s not on the road, working to counteract the impression among open-source backers that Microsoft is the devil personified — is Bill Hilf. Hilf works for Microsoft’s general manager of platform strategy and Linux point man, Martin Taylor. Hilf is the director of Microsoft’s platform technology strategy group. He also happens to run a sizeable Linux lab on the Redmond campus.
Linux running at Microsoft? Isn’t that sacrilege? Think of it more as a competitive advantage, said Hilf.ADVERTISEMENT
‘I am a non-Microsoft guy working at Microsoft,’ Hilf said.
His bio verifies his characterization. Before joining Microsoft about a year-plus ago, Hilf was instrumental in driving IBM’s Linux technical strategy for its emerging and competitive markets organization. Before his stint at IBM, Hilf was the senior director of engineering for eToys, where he helped build the company’s e-commerce business infrastructure. All told, Hilf has been involved with the open-source world for over a dozen years, he said.
Hilf says he spends a lot of time ‘making Linux more transparent to Microsoft managers.’ He does a lot of educating around the open-source development, testing, deployment and licensing models, he said.
Hilf’s job sometimes involves telling the Microsoft product managers ‘where we suck’ vis-a-vis open source. And sometimes it involves showing the Microsoft teams ‘where the big holes are in open-source environments.’
‘The bulk of my job is spent with the (Microsoft) product teams on where open-source software is going,’ he said.”