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Microsoft buys and sells its version of the "facts" on Sharepoint, OOXML

Microsoft is at it again, this time misrepresenting the money to be made in Sharepoint versus open source and in its OOXML efforts. The bozometer is at "High."

Wow. I guess when you have more cash than taste you can afford to buy research reports that say all sorts of nice things about you. Open-source companies have to rely on things like products that please customers; Microsoft can afford to ramrod research down customers' throats.

A great example, as Mary Jo notes on ZDNet, is two new Microsoft-commissioned research reports that (gasp!) find Microsoft Sharepoint is a better investment for systems integrators and that "Office Open XML (is) the format showing the most progressive adoption rates in the marketplace over the next 12 months."

The research is of dubious value given that it's bought and paid for, but what is fascinating is the target of the research: open source.

Think about it. 99 percent of the current Enterprise Content Management/collaboration market belongs to proprietary vendors, yet Microsoft bothered to put together a report showing how it compares against...less than 1% of the market? Does it have a complex or what? It must feel that the future belongs to open-source collaboration/content management systems. I'm glad we agree on one thing.

Because we certainly don't agree on the numbers Microsoft bought. Let's take the Sharepoint example first, because that's the one I know most about. Mary Jo reports:

Microsoft SharePoint engagements to appeal to larger companies, according to IPED. Average project size is $5,000 to $15,000 for an open-source collaboration engagement, compared to $45,000 to $150,000 for SharePoint ones. Hourly billing rates: $90 per hour, on average, for open-source partners, compared to $150 per hour for SharePoint ones.

This is completely false. It's not just a little bit false. It's 100% false. It may be true of non-commercial open-source collaboration/content management systems, but it's egregiously wrong for any commercial open-source system. Alfresco's partners, for example, average much higher than Sharepoint's engagement numbers: closer to $75,000 to $300,000 per engagement (and often much more). I'd be willing to bet the numbers for Liferay (Portal), Nuxeo (ECM), etc. are not far off that mark.

As for billing rates, Alfresco's partners take in more than $150/hour - higher than Sharepoint's. Again, I'm sure my open-source competitors' partners' rates are much the same.

Yet again, it seems that Microsoft has created its own personal strawman and managed to knock it down (bravo!), though not completely as the report in question cites higher net-income percentages for open-source systems than Sharepoint. Even with its own cash, it can't seem to buy a truth most pleasing to it.

It's good marketing to paint your competition in the worst possible light, but it's not very helpful to customers, which is what Microsoft insisted was its purpose in upgrading its 'Get the Facts' site. I guess old habits die hard.

Full disclosure: My company, Alfresco, offers an open-source alternative to Microsoft Sharepoint.