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Survey finds 54 percent would buy more Microsoft products if it were more open

Microsoft seems to be comfortable in its desktop dominance, but a recent survey suggests that people would buy even more from it if Microsoft would just open up.

I've suggested here that Microsoft has little to gain in the short-term from open source, and continue to think that its desktop business will remain a cash cow for many years regardless of what it does. Microsoft could call Windows and Office "squishy bath toys" and people would still buy them out of habit. The "open opportunity" for Microsoft is on the web, but that's a medium to long-term play.

InformationWeek, however, did a survey of 536 business technology professionals and discovered that:

  • 54 percent say they would be more likely to buy Microsoft products if the company were more open (and only 25 percent are asking for lower prices);
  • 81 percent want Microsoft to offer greater integration and interoperability with non-Microsoft products (a need recently raised by UK schools); but
  • 70 percent either don't believe Microsoft is opening up or think it's too soon to tell; and
  • 51 percent believe Microsoft's recent openness push as mostly a PR campaign.

Microsoft has a serious credibility gap when it comes to openness and open source. Microsoft's former open source chief does little to aid this by trying to turn the open source debate into a Windows versus Linux sideshow, which it is emphatically not.

It's about being a platform company again, Microsoft. Microsoft has grown so much that it now competes heavily with just about everyone, and has engaged in business practices that make it trusted by few. Between its necessary corporate motives (More profit, often at the expense of those in its platform ecosystem) and past (?) monopolistic behaviors, Microsoft has made it difficult to get excited about building on its platform.

This isn't a bad thing for maintaining a dominant desktop position. It's terrible for winning on the web.

Consider the fact that MySpace and Facebook are exploding as application platforms. Even proprietary Apple is seeing tremendous growth on Microsoft's home turf - the desktop - as people seek choice.

So, Microsoft doesn't need to open up...or does it? Could greater openness help to forestall a long day's journey into night?