Friday, December 30, 2005

The Big Blue Yonder

A coworker pointed me to this article: The Big Blue Yonder (Newsweek: MSNBC). “By giving away hundreds of its patents, IBM has turned a philosophical movement into a tangible business strategy. The company with the most to lose is Microsoft. A close-up look at the software war.

I think one of the things that the article failed to mention (even though it focuses on IBM) is that Microsoft has “given away” it’s products and pieces in the past because they were part of the larger whole: to everybody and everything Microsoft. They (for the most part) “gave away” Windows 3, 3.1, fW with the goal of getting Microsoft controlling the desktop and the foundation for eventual cash cows like Office (and in turn creating a huge side market for alternative desktops, then virus protection, etc.). Internet Explorer was “given away” for free, which eventually took Netscape out of the market. Windows Media player is also “free” and represents a future foothold through digital management (media is huge now, it’s only a matter of time

Those of us in the mainframe world remember having the ability to get source code to at least one of IBM’s operating systems. Redbooks on various topics are still available if you know where to look.

The article presents two sides: Microsoft and the rest of the world. They place SAP and Oracle on the fence in the middle. All points are arguable, but in this day and age anybody can argue a point to validity, so it’s not really worth arguing about.

It mentions Microsoft being on the defensive. Personally, the only thing that can hurt Microsoft is Microsoft at this point. I don’t think open-source, Java, and other non-Microsoft technologies will have an effect on them. It will be interesting to see where they want to take us in 2006 and 2007, which will have a bearing on the rest of the world of software development.

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