Shaun Connolly from JBoss/Red Hat has a nice summary of Microsoft’s Open Source Strategy. In the post, Shaun states:
“As much as I hate to say it, Microsoft could learn something from IBM’s strategy. They make no bones about it: they work in the open source on piece-part components that they Bluewash into their closed-source products. While it’s not a pure open source business model…it’s clearly an open source strategy.”
I think Microsoft has an OSS strategy.
It’s not the one described in Bill Hiff’s recent interview. That’s the difference between how you run your business, and what you tell the press and competitors. Call me crazy, but I think that Microsoft’s OSS strategy is “Grin and bear it”. Okay, get up off the floor…Grin and bear it is a valid strategy if you know “it” isn’t going to last forever. Yes, OSS is here to stay, but the competitive differentiation that OSS gives to an OSS vendor isn’t infinite. The support-only OSS business model does not scale. I’m made the claim that this differentiation decreases as the OSS vendor starts to grow beyond $250M in annual revenue.
Since I’ve made this claim twice without Matt, Dave, or JBoss/RH readers calling me out, I’m going to guess that they agree with the claim to some degree. I *think* that Marc Fleury believes the same and said so much on the Open Season podcast. I found this on Fleury’s RSS feed (via Google Reader), but it looks like the post itself has been moved?:
“I don’t want to come across as the ultimate realist but as far as scalable business models go, we still haven’t found anything better than a proprietary distribution of open source software.”
Imagine that you are at Microsoft and see the competitive differentiation from OSS waning as the competitor grows closer to $500M. Would you rush out and change the business model that created a $50B company?
“Grin, and bear it” – it’s not just a strategy for Toronto Maple Leaf fans anymore ;-)