Microsoft will launch a website to promote its Linux and open-source interoperability work, at the LinuxWorld exhibition in Boston today.

Bill Hilf, general manager of platform strategy group for Microsoft, will discuss the site, which will go live today during his keynote. The address is expected to be http://port25.technet.com.

Hilf, who formerly worked on Linux deployments at IBM, has been overseeing Microsoft's Linux and open-source interoperability lab in Redmond for the past two years. He was recently promoted, to manage all of Microsoft's open-source compatibility efforts, including its controversial Get the Facts anti-Linux campaign and its SharedSource initiative, in which the company allows developers access to some of its proprietary source code.

The new website will explain Microsoft's efforts to ensure its proprietary systems interoperate with open-source software, including Linux. The company will also encourage advice about how to advance these goals, Hilf said.

"It's going to be the interface to all of the open-source lab work Microsoft does, where a variety of people blog - including myself and others on my team," he said. "People in the community also can provide feedback and give us ideas for better interoperability."

Even the site's name reflects this notion of an open channel of communication, Hilf said. Port 25 is the server port that sends and receives e-mail on a server, thus facilitating two-way communication, he said.

In the past several years, Microsoft has appeared to become more open-source friendly, but mainly from a market perspective. Without planning to support open source itself as a strategy, the company has realised that Linux and other open-source software is here to stay. From a business perspective, it's important that Microsoft technology can co-exist peacefully in the same network with those products, Hilf said.

"The great thing is that as a market we've gotten past the David and Goliath stuff," he said. "The reality is that customers run different technologies. ... We’re still a commercial software company, but in some cases people want to run Linux, want to run Windows virtualised, want to manage Linux using [Microsoft products]. In those situations we can find a way to interoperate."

To that end, Microsoft earlier this week at LinuxWorld released Virtual Server 2005 R2, the latest version of its virtualisation environment for Windows that also supports the client and server versions of Linux distributions from Red Hat and Novell. Microsoft also announced it would offer the product for free.