Microsoft and open source to tough it out in tight economy

Redmond and open will likely weather the downturn better than most, which means they may be sharing the stage much more often than in the past.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay
2 min read

Microsoft is suggesting that it will weather the downturn better than most, as CNET's Ina Fried reports. It's almost certainly right. Microsoft, for all its problems, tends to make software that is cheaper and easier to use than that of many of its proprietary peers.

The company posted good but not stellar earnings and forecast a conservative near-term outlook.

No one particularly thrives in a downturn, as Newsweek's Dan Lyons suggests, but some will do better than others. Microsoft is a value play in a tough economy and, frankly, it has such a monopoly in Office and Windows (desktop) that it can't help but do well. Apple offers escapism through uber cool, highly functional products.

And open source? Well, open source tends to be all about higher performance and better code at better prices. In this way, it captures some of Apple's shine and some of Microsoft's cheapness. I think it's a winning combination, and so do CIOs, at least so I'm hearing in my conversations with a range of open-source companies. My own company's quarter (which started in September) looks to end the strongest we've ever had, despite a slower-than-usual start.

In this way, Microsoft and open source may be sharing the stage much more often than in the past, and perhaps the competition will get even uglier than it has been. The difference this time around is that open source can dish it out as well as it can take it. The other difference is that Microsoft, too, is working with and in open source. Game on.