Few things are more dangerous than a wild animal that gets cornered and can't find a way to escape. Does the same truism apply to the world's largest software company?
Few things are more dangerous than a wild animal that gets
cornered and can't find a way to escape. Does the same truism
apply to the world's largest software company?
I'm referring, of course, to Microsoft. In a Securities and
Exchange Commission 10-K filing this week, the company stated
that it considers the open-source development model to be a major
threat to its long-term earnings potential. Microsoft is
particularly worried about its server software and development
tools, both of which look to be increasingly vulnerable to
10-K reports are pessimistic by nature; they provide important
legal cover if a company's earnings plummet and angry
shareholders decide to sue. Yet there is almost always a kernel
of truth under all of that pumped-up pessimism, and it certainly
seems that Microsoft executives believe open-source software
represents a mortal threat to the company's future.
Redmond has more than a few weapons at its disposal to fight
back, including the company's massive intellectual property
portfolio. We've seen growing concern among open-source
developers over Microsoft's ability to wreak havoc with its
software patents, some of which could target key open-source
projects such as Apache, Samba and Mono. There has also been a
lot of debate over just how far Microsoft will go--or could
go--with intellectual property litigation, which carries almost
as many potential risks as rewards.
If this week's 10-K filing is a fair reflection of Microsoft's
attitude, however, then the stakes in this game are much higher
than they were before. If Microsoft executives decide that the
open-source development model truly represents a life-or-death
threat, then developers and software users alike may soon look
back on this period as the calm before the storm.
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InformationWeek Must Reads Oct. 21, 2014InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of digital strategy. Learn why you should learn to embrace DevOps, how to avoid roadblocks for digital projects, what the five steps to API management are, and more.