Now here’s something you don’t see everyday. Scoble reports that Microsoft has opened Port 25… apparently an open source software lab. Marketing shenanigans or the real deal? You decide!

Apparently the result of Scoble’s influence on Microsoft’s culturepor the slumbering giant is final waking up. Jim Allchin wasn’t kidding about “hearing us” (the open source community that is) as evidenced by Bill Hiff‘s explanation of this new site:

So why is it called Port 25? Some background on port numbers first. SMTP is short for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and is the protocol for sending email messages between servers or from a mail client to a mail server. On a server, the port for SMTP is 25. When you open a port on a server, such as to allow for SMTP traffic, it is commonly referred to as ‘listening’ on the port. Port 25, therefore, is a metaphor for how we are opening the communication lines to for a discussion around Open Source Software and Microsoft. Cute, huh?

It’s like an open source feedback loop for Microsoft? Fer rizzle? Shucks man, that’s so… neat!

So …if Microsoft can open up, why can’t our government go more open source? Why are there leaks? When was the last time an open source project dealt with a leak? Exactly.

Now imagine if the government published something like this on

What will you find here? This will be the place we not only blog, but also where we put analysis from our OSS labs and also where we discuss and show other parts of [the government] that we think are just plain cool or interesting. I think what you’ll see here over time is how a bunch of open source guys inside [the government] think, as well as people and technologies inside [DC] that we think other folks like us would find interesting as well.

So, there will be much more to discuss, debate and learn from together – but for now, port 25 is open.

It’s kind of like bringing in a bunch of minority party folks together to create a “work tank” of sorts (thanks Lane) to keep the majority party in check, seeing as how there’s no one in government doing that now.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

One thought on “WTF”

  1. I had a related thought about the government and open source a bit ago, Chris, but I never expanded on it past thinking in the shower.

    Thinking about how local knowledge and more sources of information usually let the best information blossom, I was imagining what would happen if the Department of Defense went open source with its information.

    If every bit of intelligence was just disseminated to the public, individuals could make their own calls about what to do with it, best protecting themselves. In movies they always fear starting a panic, but that is because we don’t hear the threats all the time. They would become commonplace and after an initial rough period I imagine threats that are truly serious would be taken the most seriously.

    As for troop deployments, I think that could be open source, too. If our strategies were truly about “defense” then why does it matter if those who want to attack us know exactly how we would retaliate? I would think that would be a greater disincentive to actually attack. In order for this to make much sense, though, the U.S. would have to be much less aggressive and dramatically change its foreign policy in order not to piss people off.

    The problem that I found in my own thinking, though, was about intelligence gathering. In order to get the information to spread to the public, there needs to be good intelligence gathering. If all of those strategies were revealed and open, then I’m not sure how valuable intelligence that could actually expose threats would be discovered.

    So I stopped thinking.

    Anyway, I probably got a little off topic, forgive me.

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