There is an old proverb: "Know your enemy to better fight it."

For Microsoft, one of the enemies is the Open Source movement, with Linux as a head (remember, more than 50% of the webservers on the internet run Apache, and in that number, a really good number is on Linux). So in order to comply to that strategy, they apparently tried to hire Eric S Raymond, after having successfully hired Daniel Robbins, Gentoo Founder. ESR declined, with a good reason, but the fact that Microsoft offered to hire him at one point prove that they are willing to try to:

  1. understand Open Source better
  2. hire Open Source contributors to tie them up and have stop them to contribute

This leads to the second proverb: "Don't beat them, join them." Looks like they are trying to move smart to undermine the whole Open Source effort. "There are things that money can't buy. For the rest, there is Microsoft".

Off-course, this is only gratuitous speculation. Perhaps they just want to release Windows as Open Source Software and are seeking for advisors :-)