Microsoft, Open Source Schizoids - InformationWeek

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12/5/2008
01:19 PM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Microsoft, Open Source Schizoids

I take any of Microsoft's proclamations about open source with a Plymouth Rock-sized chunk of salt, especially when it comes in the form of a thinly disguised sales pitch. Such is the case with a recent PressPass release where it trumpets the benefits of a company dumping open source solutions in favor of going all-Microsoft.

I take any of Microsoft's proclamations about open source with a Plymouth Rock-sized chunk of salt, especially when it comes in the form of a thinly disguised sales pitch. Such is the case with a recent PressPass release where it trumpets the benefits of a company dumping open source solutions in favor of going all-Microsoft.

Much of what you'll read in that piece is nothing you don't already know: a firm that was using open source discovered all kinds of hidden costs and decided it would be better to consolidate on Microsoft, lock-in be darned. Fine. But what goes unspoken and uncommented on here is how open source is considered as a single, monolithic entity: read this and you'd get the impression you're either using it (OpenOffice! Apache! MySQL!) or not (Office 2007! IIS! SQL Server!).

That's misleading at best, since everything I've seen hints strongly at organizations using a mix of open source and proprietary solutions where appropriate. I don't even doubt that such a thing was happening over at Speedy Hire, the case study in question here -- but you won't see Microsoft talking about that.

The best word for Microsoft's attempts to deal with open source is schizoid. On the one hand you have the folks at the Open Source Lab, who are building what bridges they can -- and on the other, you have the rest of the company, including its marketing and PR divisions, who may end up undoing what good is done. At the end of the day, they're still a proprietary-platform outfit, and they have to uphold that.

If there ever was a case study for a company struggling to survive in a world tilting between both proprietary and open solutions, they're it -- and they're apt to take a good many of us along for the ride.


Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/syegulalp

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