Microsoft Open Tech Expands To China

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Microsoft Open Technologies, a fully owned subsidiary of Microsoft, has long been the company’s main vehicle for reaching out to the open source community. Its main mission is to build technical bridges between Microsoft’s products and open source projects. To allow it to more efficiently work with the fast-growing Chinese market, Open Tech is opening its first international office in Shanghai today, which itself is a fully owned subsidiary of Microsoft Open Tech in the U.S.

As Gianugo Rabellino, the senior director of Open Source Communities at MS Open Tech, told me earlier this week, the idea here is to continue the work that the team has always done. This means reaching out to local open source communities and attending and organizing events. “What we have learned over the years is that it’s not just about events,” he noted. “It’s about day-to-day work with the organizations and engaging with the community.”

In Rabellino’s view, China presents a massive opportunity for MS Open Tech. There are quite a few open-source projects around media servers and databases that are very popular in China, for example, that few developers in Europe or the U.S. have ever heard about. There are also others, like the 2D gaming library CocoStudio, that are already used around the world, but that dominate the market in China.

“The open-source work that is happening in China has a great opportunity to impact the market in general,” Rabellino told me, and that’s why MS Open Tech wants to be a part of it.

In the U.S., the Open Tech team works on projects like porting Node.js to Azure and maintaining a library of open source-based virtual machines for Microsoft’s cloud computing service. The team also worked on bringing Pointer Events to Google’s Blink, Apache’s Cordova project and numerous other open-source tools.

It may still seem like a bit of an oxymoron for some that Microsoft would work on open source projects. As long as you “come bearing patches” and focus the discussion on technology, however, most projects are more than happy to work with the company, according to Rabellino.