How Microsoft, Open Source

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-06-03 Print this article Print

Can Benefit Each Other"> Microsoft may also be looking to put a "more friendly face on their organization, to not appear so much as a monopoly," Gartners Weiss said. In particular, Weiss went on to say that Microsoft needs to change its image in Europe, where the software giant faces a market that is buying into open source and objects to Microsofts business tactics.
"Microsoft is not self-deluded enough to think that their business model is fitting as well in Europe or Asia as it has in North America," Weiss said. To fight this problem, "Microsoft needs to get more active in open source and provide hybrid solutions. They have to appear to straddle both the proprietary and open-source worlds."
Its the possibility that Microsoft will only appear to work with open-source developers and businesses that bothers many observers. Weiss, for example, said he expects that it will be a "cat and mouse game between Red Hat and Microsoft about benefits and tradeoffs." Torvalds also expressed wariness, saying, "I wonder what there is to discuss. … If Microsoft wants to do open source, they can do so even without any huge discussions. And if Microsoft doesnt want to do it, what discussions could there be? So call me paranoid, but unless Microsoft has changed their ways, I suspect a lot of the discussions from Microsofts side will be threats and positioning." Weiss said he worries that "if Microsoft attempts to utilize open source to push its own proprietary products, then it can co-opt the open-source movement to further its own strengths, and this will work against Red Hat." At the same time, Weiss said, "Microsoft must also deal with its thousands of business partners who have bought into its proprietary development ways. If these companies see Microsoft supporting an open-source project that competes with a product that came up through the Microsoft ecosystem, they will not be happy." DiDio, on the other hand, raised the question of whether open-source companies will take advantage of Microsoft. "This is not a one-way street," DiDio said. "The open-source community must also make overtures to Microsoft in order to serve their customers best interests. ... That means working with Microsoft on mutual areas of concern like integration, interoperability, security and high-level application support." Its still far too early to know what will happen with Microsofts attempt to work with the open-source community, but analysts have some hopes. "An open-source community that features an active, participating Microsoft, but a Microsoft thats forced to compete on the same terms as any other party, individual or corporate, seems like a win/win," RedMonks OGrady said. However, OGrady continued, "Im not naive enough to think that greater immersion in the world of open source is going to trigger any epiphanies within the upper ranks at Redmond." Still, Weiss said, if nothing else, "Microsoft recognizing open source helps gives open source and Linux validation." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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