Mono, Microsoft, and Mischief
Update (17-Sep-2005, 19:00 PDT): Well the party did indeed happen, t-shirts and all! I'm sorry I wasn't in L.A. for it. Todd Bishop from the Seattle Post Intelligencer was covering the PDC and talked with Miguel. He talks about mono in an article and on his blog. Hopefully Miguel posts pictures soon.
Apparently Microsoft is again denying Miguel de Icaza a Mono BoF at this year's PDC. This is such a missed opportunity for Microsoft. Microsoft needs Mono. They published the CLR and C# language specifications as international standards through ECMA and ISO, but it still looks like a proprietary controlled technology to the customer base. Standards are a message in the marketplace that encourage multiple implementations. As long as there is only one commercial implementation, there is no standard, and the customers know it regardless of the number of trees killed to produce specifications. Encourage Mono and then deliver the better integrated experience for writing web services on .NET. Of course that would require the ability to ship software in a timely fashion.
Microsoft is the company that re-branded the ".NET Server" to "Windows Server 2003", and ".NET" to "Windows .NET" to ensure they really drove home the idea that it's all about Windows. At this point in their existence, they already own that word in customers' minds, and unfortunately customers know that really means their "desktop". There was the opportunity to own a new word — ".NET" — and even associate it with the idea of servers, but that's gone now. It's "Windows .NET". IBM learned a long time ago to own new words. They have a history of owning new words and moving along with their customers. There was "mainframe" and "PC" and even "Selectric" at one glorious time. Digital Equipment Corporation on the other hand ended up only owning one word. Too bad.
If I was Novell, I would start a nasty viral ad campaign for the PDC. Instead of gathering in a hallway like stubborn refugees, get a meeting room in a neighbouring hotel, or take over a bar like a Dick's Last Resort. Pass out invitation cards and put out notices in the lobbies of all the local hotels for the PDC, and on the message boards at the conference. Set-up the screen and one of those nifty portable projectors, plug in the laptop, and let Miguel do what Miguel does so well. Buy the beer and the food. Hand everyone a copy of the latest SuSE distribution, and whatever Mono tools can be put together. Hand out t-shirts to the first 100 people through the door and make them GREAT t-shirts. (I'm thinking a brick wall background with the Mono monkey logo "spray painted" on the wall in a loud fluorescent blue or green. No words. No other logos. We already know what the Novell logo looks like and it would spoil the effect.) Encourage everyone to wear them to the PDC the next day. Remind Microsoft that you're customers — and that it's your money. Make the Mono BoF the best little party of the PDC. It certainly couldn't cost as much as a booth in the vendor hall.
Of course that's just what I'd do.