Microsoft approaches an open-source epiphany

Redmond seems to forget that in competing against open source it increasingly competes against itself.

I read with interest this account of the Microsoft Platform Strategy Group's efforts to steer the Redmond giant toward a more conciliatory approach to open source. One paragraph, in particular, struck me (emphasis added):

[Microsoft senior director Bob Duffner] stressed that Microsoft by no means wants to promote the use of open-source software to its customers, and still thinks its own software is superior. However, embracing open source is about giving customers and developers the chance to make their own decisions about which software to buy, and making sure both Microsoft and open-source software can be part of the same buying decision, Duffner said.

Perhaps someone should remind Duffner that by promoting its own software to customers, Microsoft already is promoting open-source software, since open source has long been included in its proprietary offerings, a trend that is increasing. (Duffner knows this, of course - he has a deep background in open source. I suspect his comment was designed to placate internal Microsoft factions more than to convey any information to customers.)

Not that customers are fooled. Forrester Research recently surveyed a range of enterprises and uncovered an overwhelming understanding among IT buyers that proprietary offerings have open source inside. So, to Duffner's point, Microsoft and open-source software already are part of the same buying decision, both in terms of separate products and in terms of Microsoft's own products.

Kudos to Duffer, Sam Ramji, and others on the Microsoft open-source team that are preaching this open-source gospel to the Microsofties. It seems to be sinking in.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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