How's this for ironic: Microsoft is actually spending some sponsorship dollars here at OSCON (Open Source Conference) 2008, but Apple is stealing the show -- without spending a dime. Here's how.

The VAR Guy came to OSCON to hear more about Canonical and Ubuntu Linux. But when our resident blogger checked in with the OSCON registration desk today, he immediately noticed Microsoft's logo on the conference bag. Lovely. It was right next to the Intel logo. Is this a "Wintel" event? Are we back in 1998? Somebody press Control+Alt+Delete and wake The VAR Guy from this dream.

Kidding aside, it's good to see Microsoft at open source conference. Too bad the company doesn't have a compelling story to share: Microsoft sponsored Participate 08 (an OSCON session on July 21) but it was a lot to do about nothing.

Apple Everywhere

Meanwhile, Apple Corporate is nowhere to be seen at OSCON. Steve Jobs must be locked away, designing the next proprietary software platform tied to proprietary hardware and proprietary online Apple services. And yes, The VAR Guy will buy it.

Still, Apple is EVERYWHERE here at OSCON. The VAR Guy estimates that 20 percent to 35 percent of the crowd is carrying MacBooks or MacBook Pros. This strong connection between the open source industry and Apple is hardly surprising. The VAR Guy has blogged about the Apple-Open Source link before.

The VAR Guy himself jumps between Mac OS X and Ubuntu Linux. And open source companies like Alfresco (among others) seem to be flocking to the Mac.

So here we are, at a big event where Microsoft is spending big marketing dollars -- and Apple won the hearts and minds of attendees before they even arrived at OSCON.