Friday, April 03, 2009

Microsoft’s Stephen Elop Speaks! | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD

All the examples of Microsoft being “open” are future speculations, while at the same time pointing out that everyone else is going more toward “closed” solutions. The devil is in the details:

1. The iPhone isn’t as open as many would like it, but it is hardly closed. More importantly, the iPhone doesn’t present a barrier to my using a cell phone, or even the AT&T network. It hasn’t become such a “standard” that every other cell phone user needs an iPhone compatibility module. Nor is it likely to.

2. Similarly, the Kindle isn’t open, but it is based on Open Source software (should I anticipate a Linux version of Word?). There are a dozen or so alternatives to Kindle, and I could even download Kindle books to the iPhone if I wished. Books that aren’t DRM-locked can be downloaded for almost any device. In fact if we could factor out DRM concepts from our thinking there would be little reason for the software stacks on the iPhone (iPod with a phone) or Kindle not being totally open (i.e. Open Sourced).

3. Last time I checked Chrome was an Open Source browser. So will MS be Open Sourcing IE any time soon? It’s early, but I haven’t heard hints of any Google functionality ONLY working on Chrome. But I can’t use most of Microsoft’s “cloud” services unless I am using IE and Windows, and in some cases Office as well.

Yes, Microsoft has a copy of Linux running in a lab somewhere, and they have donated a few tid-bits of source code to the world (strangely though they mostly have to do with converting things to work on Windows).

To the extent that Microsoft makes products run or interoperate with any non-Microsoft hardware or software it is where they have clearly lost control and are being dragged kicking and screaming to the inter-op party. They made a commitment to continue supporting Office for Apple computers, but only after being incentivized by a court settlement.

In other words, their concessions to openness are never voluntary, always forced by circumstances.

Other than that, nice Mohawk.

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