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Redmond Gets Wiki With It

Published information about Microsoft's SDKs includes links to MSDN-hosted wikis-online sites where visitors can add and edit content.

When Microsoft released new SDKs for Windows SharePoint Services, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and Microsoft Project, the company also changed the way it interacts with developers. Published information about the SDKs includes links to MSDN-hosted wikis-online sites where visitors can add and edit content.

"It's a pretty exciting concept, that we're getting the dialog going a little more broadly," says Jay Paulus, director of platform marketing at Microsoft.

For example, the Windows Share-Point Services 3.0 SDK site on MSDN (http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms441339.aspx) features a Community Content area, where registered visitors can add content and links or edit existing entries.
Will Zachmann, a longtime industry watcher who is president of Canopus Research Inc., says the new developer wikis are part of a sustained effort by Microsoft to communicate with the development community. It's not an easy job.

"The problem with Microsoft is there's so much material -- and rich material -- that it's hard to know what you need," Zachmann says. "[Microsoft] madea deliberate decision two years ago to openness.

[The company has] really embraced the whole Web 2.0 stuff to communicate better with developers, which I think is a great move."

Among the products of that push, Zachmann says, are numerous insightful blogs by Microsoft employees and multimedia resources like the MSDN Channel 9 video and media Web site.

So what's next?

"I think you'll see more. You'll see an expansion of this kind of work," says Paulus. "You'll see those wikis proliferate. You'll see more in the style of Channel 9, with more video-blogging activity. You'll see more blogging in terms of engaging with people directly. You'll see more 'feet on the streets' developer activity as well-regional activity."

Zachmann applauds the philosophy, which can help break down the barrier between Microsoft and its far-flung community of independent developers. He says the effort is raising the bar for Microsoft competitors, as well.

"Anybody who is making platforms and tools is going to need to communicate with developers one way or the other. Microsoft is just light years ahead."

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.

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