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Microsoft hiring “open source evangelist”?


Author: Robin 'Roblimo' Miller

COMMENTARY: I couldn’t make this up if I tried. A friend pinged me and said he’d gotten a call from a Microsoft recruiter trying to fill a position she described as “open source evangelist.” My friend, who does not want his name associated with this story, is without question an open source evangelist, and quite a successful one at that. But he is not interested in going to work for Microsoft. Are you?Our mutual puzzlement came down to this: “What, exactly, would an ‘open source evangelist’ do at Microsoft?”

An OSTG coworker suggested that the job would probably be to “evangelize open sourcerers to the Microsoft way.”

Another coworker said he thought Bill Hilf‘s credibility was now so low that Microsoft needed a new face to represent them in Linux-related matters.

And the man who was being recruited said that, whatever the exact nature of the position, “It smelled like it would be a sacrificial lamb kind of thing.”

Gentoo Linux instigator Daniel Robbins made a well-publicized flip-flop from free software development to Microsoft employee in mid-2005, but left after only eight months.

My friend who got the Microsoft call is not necessarily as high-profile a GNU/Linux and FOSS person as Robbins was in Gentoo’s early days, but he has plenty of community cred and, unlike many FOSS advocates, a strong reputation among some segments of industry and government as a level-headed, business-oriented guy. If Microsoft managed to “turn” him, it would certainly be worth some major press release boasting — and might help slow the steady creep of Linux and FOSS into enterprise environments.

But, my recruited friend noted, he’s “probably just one of a thousand people they’re calling. Sooner or later, they’ll find someone.”

After my article on my recent trip to Redmond, I’m sure I won’t get any such call. Not that I’d do anything but laugh and say “no” if I did.

What about you? What would you do if Microsoft offered you an “open source evangelist” position?


  • Open Source