Microsoft's friendly sham

Microsoft is only as open as regulators force it to be.

I try hard to give people the benefit of a doubt, even Microsoft. So when I read this post from Mary Jo Foley I just wanted to cringe. As Mary Jo notes, Microsoft seems to be institutionally incapable of doing anything for the right reasons, most recently at its intransigent best/worst when relaxing its Vista EULA to allow virtualization.

Microsoft claimed it had seen the light. As it turns out, the only light it saw was a potential investigative flashlight from the US antitrust regulators after Phoenix Technologies filed a complaint. Mary Jo concludes:

In the Phoenix case, Microsoft's behavior change staved off a potential antitrust investigation. In the interoperability case, Microsoft's gyrations were in vain; the company was still fined by the European regulators.

But in both cases--and a growing number of examples--Microsoft's failure to be upfront regarding its reasons for its behavioral changes leads me to continue to assume the worst about any technology, policy or strategy changes the company makes.

I'm getting there, too. For those who still believe Microsoft + Novell is all about peace, love, and interoperability for the good of customers, you'd do well to check Microsoft's track record. For those like I who have tried to believe Microsoft's recent open data pledge on Sharepoint, good luck with that belief.

Microsoft has billions of reasons to drag its feed on change. It has two massive monopolies that are bigger than most other software companies...combined. Why change? Why do anything for customers that might have the adverse side effect of helping competitors?

It's getting to the point where one day Microsoft actually will do something benevolent and no one will believe it. I'm getting there. You?

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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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