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Doug's Mailbag: Playing Nice With Others

Readers share their thoughts on Microsoft's changed attitude on open source:

I'm still reading your newsletter -- I always look for it on Friday afternoons to give me a short and often humorous break from endless meetings (yes, even on Fridays).

As for Microsoft and inter-operability, Microsoft has moved a long way toward working with open source. I think this is more driven by the same dynamics that always has driven them: money. (And don't get me wrong, I don't think there is a thing wrong with Microsoft making tons of money -- that just helps Bill cure more of the world's ills.) Here are two small pieces of evidence to support this:
1. Redhat is now a $1 billion dollar company and 2) mobile app sales is expected to grow 1200 percent over the next five years and most of those are not expected to be from MS (at least right now).

I look at this as a strategic opportunity for Microsoft. Remember when the Mac came out (1984), Microsoft had a steady operating system called, yep, MS-DOS. Microsoft didn't release Windows 1.0 until 1985 and it was NOT the raging triumph that it is now. Microsoft battled for every scrap of market share. I'm looking for the same type of battles here.

Microsoft has a solid lineup of tech: Xbox, Kinect, Windows Phone 7 (it is worth looking at), Sync and the new Windows 8 operating system. If it can bring all of this together and win mindshare (and market) through collaboration at first, it will be repeated what it did years ago.

Dang, I'm getting old.

This shows that Microsoft is putting all hands on deck to offer an alternative vision of computing to the Apple ecosystem. Partnerships like this fuel a new generation of leaders to build value on all platforms. Embrace and extend.

Given Microsoft's previous track record, I'm not prepared to give them kudos or even an at-a-boy. You have to wonder if the usually nefarious Microsoft is just trying to gather more intel (small 'i') on Open Source projects to see where best to use its growing patent portfolio to beat down it's competition. If Microsoft is really looking for interoperability, then it should start porting some of its major components (such as Office and SQL Server) to other platforms.

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Posted by Doug Barney on 04/16/2012 at 1:19 PM


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