IBM Sees Enterprise 2.0 As The Perfect Chance For Revenge Against Microsoft

They say revenge is a dish best served cold. And in the case of Enteprise 2.0, it looks like IBM hopes to serve Microsoft a chilled plate of ice.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold. And in the case of Enteprise 2.0, it looks like IBM hopes to serve Microsoft a chilled plate of ice.How else can you explain IBM's move this week to launch a free, open version of its Lotus Symphony productivity suite?

IBM sees two clear trends -- open software and the move by CIOs and IT managers to embrace Web 2.0 -- and it sees one opportunity in these trends: To challenge Microsoft's dominance of the desktop.

IBM and Microsoft have been rivals since, well, the beginning of time. While both companies have not only survived but flourished in the last two decades, everybody knows how Microsoft profited from IBM's early mistakes during the dawn of the PC. Deep down we all know IBM has been waiting in the wings for its chance to get even.

Now that Microsoft is the established plumbing company of the enterprise IT world, IBM sees a chance to kick the business model right out from under Redmond.

When I was at the Enterprise 2.0 show in June, I saw IBM open up to the Enterprise 2.0 universe with full force. Here is a refresher of IBM's announcements from the show:

Jhingran said IBM's customers have been pushing the software vendor for assistance in bringing in Web 2.0 technologies, like wikis, blogs, and social networking applications. How can they enable workers to use this new technology while managing it and safeguarding the network? And this customer push only grew in force in the past six months, he added.

To that end, Jhingran said in an interview at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, that IBM is working on a bevy of new products aimed at helping companies adopt Web 2.0. In two to three months, the company will be putting several products into an open beta testing and then they're slated to officially ship by late this year or early next year.

At the time, I thought IBM was just jumping on the trend train. But now I can see what IBM is really up to. IBM has figured out a strategy that it hopes will let it use Enterprise 2.0 to advance its business on its terms.

Imagine IBM product offerings where free office software is bundled with wiki and blog platforms and a more consumer-friendly version of Notes (IBM hasn't announced the Notes thing, that part is just speculation for the sake of the hypothetical) -- all free (or relatively low-cost) and all from IBM. And bundled with IBM's services. How would Microsoft be able to compete? They'd have to start giving their software away, that's how. And if that happens, Microsoft has to come out and fight IBM on its turf, the world of services.

What do you think? Would you use IBM's free software in your organization? If so, would you stop using Microsoft in your organization? Do you think IBM's move will put a hurt on Redmond?