I have recently received email from Microsoft. They’ve given me an MSDN subscription number, which works to log me on to their site. A bunch of MS developer resources are apparently in the post.
Those who know me know that I’m not a Windows user. I rarely – maybe once in two or three months – boot a computer into windows. I dislike what I get, and see it as good for games (which I often find horribly addictive) but nothing else. So what am I doing with MSDN?
The first part of the answer is, I’m a developer. Specifically, an Apache developer. And Windows is an important platform for Apache and for some of its users. I already support my own Apache modules on Windows, though that doesn’t mean design or programming – only compilation and minimal testing on the assumption that the modules and any bugs therein are platform-neutral. In fact, since my old laptop (with a windows partition) died about 17 months ago, that’s the only thing I’ve used windows for.
But there’s more to it than that. There are good reasons I might want to undertake more complex work on Windows. For example, having written a driver for FreeTDS under Apache DBD, I can hope to maintain it if and only if I have access to the resources I expect the MSDN to bring to me.
The second part of the answer is, MS needs developers like me on-side. They know they command little goodwill amongst developers, and attract a good deal of suspicion. MS appears to be moving towards open source in some areas, and would presumably like to develop relationships with open source projects that are beneficial or neutral to their own interests. Apache is firmly vendor-neutral, and has a range of projects of interest to Windows users.
So, a little while ago, Microsoft made an offer to the ASF, to provide us with complimentary MSDN licenses for those of us who may benefit from them. It is, or should be, mutually beneficial, for reasons that should be clear.
How much use I’ll make of it remains a big unknown. I expect that any substantial upgrade to my windows-fu will be a big learning curve with a lot of cursing and swearing, and may happen only when a client demands and pays for it. But at a minimum, I should hope to be able to simplify the labour-intensive chore of compiling modules on windows, and move to compiling my own APR and httpd there. And with a bit of luck, I might find time to play with the databases we support with DBD.