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Microsoft, openness, and oxymorons

Microsoft claims that openness is the future of its Live Mesh service. Given its track record, I'm not holding my breath.

Microsoft claims to have learned from history, and the primary lesson of its history - at least the Groove Networks history - is that openness is critical. Of course, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions....

If it isn't open and easy to connect to, it isn't useful, Moromisato [Microsoft software designer who joined Microsoft through its acquisition of Groove] says. "One of the lessons we learned when working on collaboration at Groove, is that if you try to force people to use all the same technology, they won't have it, and then nobody uses it," he says. "We won't exclude anyone."

Let's compare this openness pledge to Microsoft's reality with Sharepoint, as but one example. If you want to use Microsoft's Sharepoint, you must use Microsoft's SQL Server, Windows, Office, IIS, Active Directory, etc. It also works much better with Internet Explorer, and is crippled in Firefox, Safari, etc.

Are we to assume that Microsoft has seen the light and is now embracing openness as its salvation? Not likely. Microsoft's best chance of grok'ing openness is to acquire Yahoo!, which will all but force it off its proprietary, internal fetish with all-things-Microsoft. Without some difficult experience like a Yahoo! merger, I just can't see Microsoft changing on its own.