Competition in Tools

By eweek  |  Posted 2005-11-16 Print this article Print

Youve been leading in the tools arena for some time, but who or what do you see as your primary competition? On Windows its unclear who you would say. Youd probably say its a Java runtime with probably Eclipse-based tools. Thats probably the number one competitor. But its a different platform and different tools.
I would say if you go off of Windows and look at Unix environments its sometimes Java, its sometimes Apache and PHP. You get kind of a mix of things.
What about down the road? Do you see that mix changing? Do you see Eclipse becoming more of an issue? Theres certainly some momentum, at least among the non-Windows platforms building around Eclipse. But its sort of like everything else in that environment: What really happened? How quickly? How chaotically? And how much money they can make. Right now I dont think anybodys made much money off of Eclipse, but somebodys going to break through that. I dont know. Nobodys made any money on Linux, and nobodys broken through that. So its not clear to me that anybodys going to break through and make money around Eclipse. I mean, IBM wasnt making any money around it, thats why its now open source. They kind of gave up on it. As open-source continues to drive value out of commodity middleware, will Microsoft have to move further up the stack into vertical applications? I dont believe open source has done anything to commoditize commercial software in terms of what it provides as core infrastructure. So my answer is were not going to allow ourselves to be commoditized. Weve got too many innovative ideas for that. And if you take a look at it, over the last few years weve gained market share in the server, weve held market share at the client, and I think the customers have said clearly, "These guys are innovating in ways we care about." I was at a small event on the eastern shore of Maryland where Brad Smith [Microsoft general counsel] spoke and offered what many saw as the first olive branch Microsoft held out to the open-source community, and since then weve heard of a lot more youve done to open dialogue. Whats at the bottom of that? What are you looking to get at? We all coexist in one big world here. We compete, but with everything … Well, open source is a little funny because you dont know the company—theres not a "company" to go talk to. If you look at for every competitor we have, we compete vigorously, but there is actually a level of cooperation. With IBM weve worked hard on interoperability standards, with Sun were now working hard on interoperability standards, with Oracle weve worked hard to make their database work well with our operating system. So the real question you could ask is…and its a little bit harder to know where to turn, but were trying to ask, where do we need and what does cooperation look like despite competition with open source? And we get smarter about that every day. We do compete with open source, but therell be a "coopetition" angle, and were trying to figure it out. Well, would you expect to have any tools that support other environments? No. No. There are plenty of people that are doing that. Nobodys making any money doing it. Our job as a company is to make money. I dont see anybody making money at the low end the medium end or the high end around open source. So we need to outrun it, but at the same time, doing tools that support it doesnt look to fit with our strategy. Im not sure if customers would expect it from us or want it from us. And certainly at the end of the day I dont know how to make any money from it—at least not now. Whats the bigger risk Java-based programming models continuing to gain market share at the expense of .Net or supporting .Net frameworks in the form of Mono or Rotor on Linux and growing the size of the potential .Net market? Well, Javas lost market share. So your question sort of says, what are you afraid of, continuing to grow? And I start with the fact that Java has lost share for the last five years. Five years of market share loss. Go get your own favorite survey, but .Net just keeps gaining share. So I guess I can say, sure thats a competitor, but right now its a competitor were doing very well with. If you take a look at the .Net clones… You didnt use that word, but the guys you described are essentially trying to clone our intellectual property. You always have to worry about clones. Weve had clones of Windows. None of them have ever gotten any traction, but theres a set of things you have to do to stay in front to protect your intellectual property and were doing all of those things. So I think well compete effectively with both of the scenarios you described. Whats Eric Rudder going to be doing now? Hes doing some advanced development work … some important advanced development work that I think is probably not appropriate for me to get into with you at this time. [Laughter] To read more about Rudders departure from Microsofts Server and Tools Division, click here. But hes still a key guy, a go-to guy in the company? Oh, yeah, Erics a great guy. Hes a great talent and a great guy. Hes fantastic. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel