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Microsoft's Open Strategy : Good For Open Source?

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So Microsoft now has a 'new' open strategy to open its applications up wider for interoperability.

Is it a good thing for Open Source developers and users?

In my humble opinion it all depends on how you look at the massive pie that is the Microsoft product ecosystem.

It's great news for Microsoft and Microsoft users because it will allow a wider degree of choice for them. Once the new open technology becomes more pervasive Microsoft users will be able to more easily inter-operate with other solutions and technology. Choice is almost always a good thing.

On the other hand, if the choice and open interoperability does not end up being standards based and patent risk free, that choice could well just be the carrot that precedes the stick.

If being open is just a way to further guarantee a monopoly where Microsoft's dominant status continues to be assured than choice is really just a facade. After all Microsoft could easily argue that they're not monopolists if they're open right?

On the positive side being open can and likely will help to feed a broader ecosystem of solutions (open source and otherwise) that will be able to interoperate with key Microsoft technologies including Vista, Server 2008, SQL Server
2008, Office 2007, Exchange Server 2007 and Office SharePoint Server
2007.

In my view it has always been in Microsoft's best interest to be open.

In the open world technologies talk to each other and end users benefit from the benefits of choice. In the ideal open world it is the better technology that wins since users are not locked in.

It is harder to succeed in the open world because of choice. Yet the paradox is that choice and interoperability are also the keys to wider use and success.

I understand the skepticism that exists in the open source community about Microsoft's new open strategy.

Microsoft's new strategy is not about ceding its market share so that others can take its revenues. Microsoft is a public company and it has a responsibility to its shareholders to increase its revenues.  Make no mistake about it, while open is good, this new plan is not a plan to help open source companies grow their own respective revenues.

In this case Microsoft's openness is a cunning strategy that could potentially expand the size of the pie for all, or it could ensure that Microsoft keeps the pie for itself. Time will tell.

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