Thursday Dec 27, 2007

A Cooperative Competitive Environment

Sun's Game: Friends Close, Microsoft Closer: "Sun Microsystems has been making great headway in the OSS community lately: nearly every piece of software it distributes is open source, everything is free, and OpenSolaris is really building a large community."  -- Charlie Schluting, Enterprise Networking Planet

The piece then goes on to explore why Sun and Microsoft cut their deal earlier this year. To me, it's simple: good business. Charlie then ends with this: "Sun is increasingly moving toward a more cooperative competitive environment." I agree. 

Tuesday Oct 09, 2007


CBR Online suggests that Microsoft open source Windows -- Is it time to open source Microsoft Windows? That would be interesting, don't you think? Can you imagine the source analysis you'd have to do on that thing? My goodness. Although the article speculates about the benefits of an open source Windows, it doesn't offer a perspective license. GPL is probably out given past statements from the company. But CDDL might work just fine, especially since I'm sure there are probably more than a few licenses already tangled up in Windows source. Hey, you never know. Did you ever think you'd see OpenSPARC, OpenJDK, and OpenSolaris?

Chipping Away at Microsoft

It may take a while, but the chipping is well under way -- Competitors are chipping away at Microsoft Office. I wonder how close we are to a tipping point?

Monday Oct 08, 2007

OpenOffice vs MS Office

Microsoft has some very serious competition -- The Great Showdown: MS Office vs. OpenOffice.

Friday Sep 14, 2007

Sun and Microsoft

Microsoft and Sun Expand Strategic Alliance: Sun to Become Windows Server OEM and Companies to Collaborate on Cross-platform Virtualization: "Sun is now a single source for today's leading operating systems -- Solaris and Windows -- on the industry's most innovative x64 systems and storage products. Customers can now take advantage of the virtualization benefits of Windows and Solaris on Sun's energy efficient x64 systems," said John Fowler, executive vice president, Systems Group, Sun Microsystems. "Microsoft's recognition of our x64 systems and storage systems is a testament to the superior system design at the heart of our product portfolio."

Cool. Love the focus on collaborating to solve customer problems.

Saturday Sep 01, 2007

A Steve Ballmer Job Interview

How To Make A Microserf Smile: "Ballmer decided he needed a new human resources chief, someone to help improve the mood. Rather than promoting an HR professional or looking outside, he turned to perhaps the most unlikely candidate on his staff, a veteran product manager named Lisa Brummel. When Ballmer floated the HR job in April, 2005, Brummel said: No way. But Ballmer wasn't about to take no for an answer. Picking up a traveling golf putter, the Microsoft chief started taking it apart as he barreled around Brummel's office, hammering home why she was the perfect candidate. As an outsider unsullied by HR dogma, he said, she'd bring a fresh approach. Besides, Ballmer argued, Brummel was hugely popular and had the people skills to get the job done. The two went back and forth, with Ballmer slapping Brummel's whiteboard for emphasis and Brummel parrying with: 'But I love doing products.' After more than two hours, Ballmer ended the meeting. By then the putter was in pieces. 'Sorry about the golf club,' he said. Brummel was deeply conflicted ...."

Deeply conflicted? I'll bet. My goodness. I'm just trying to imagine McNealy or Schwartz whipping into my office and breaking my golf club on my white board. I'd be deeply conflicted, too. Never happen, I know. You'd never find a golf club in my office. Or a CEO, actually. But these Microsoft slice-of-life stories never cease to amaze me. What's a "traveling golf putter" anyway?

Tuesday Apr 24, 2007

Japanese Public Sector Opportunities

Seems there's a huge opportunity for OpenSolaris in the Japanese public sector. There are a lot of Windows out there that need replacing ...

Wednesday Feb 21, 2007

Microsoft and Russia

The Russians are slapping Microsoft around again -- Russia hits out at Microsoft licensing. Ouch.

But go down to the bottom of the article and you'll see some really good news:

The problem of software piracy in Russia has been highlighted in recent weeks by the case of a teacher accused of using unlicensed copies of Microsoft Windows and Office software on 12 classroom PCs.

The case attracted the attention of current Russian President Vladimir Putin and former leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who called for the charges to be dropped. This week, the Russian courts dismissed the prosecution calls for the teacher to be fined and rejected the case as "trivial."

Cool. It's always a good thing when teachers don't have to do time in "Siberian prison camps" -- as earlier articles were suggesting -- for using outdated copies of Windows to teach kids. Previous comments here and here. I don't know how much of this story was blown out of proportion, of course, but when guys with global names like Gorbachev and Putin chime in, well, what can I say, I noticed.

I can't wait to visit our growing community in Russia, by the way. This is yet another emerging tech market that could really use a helping hand with open source and OpenSolaris. And Russia will be one of the country portals on, which is very exciting. (More on the portals project very soon.)

Tuesday Feb 06, 2007

Vladimir Putin Comments on Microsoft

This story is getting even better. Erik points me to the next round -- Microsoft declines to intercede in software piracy case. And there is more on Techmeme. Now, having the former leader of the Soviet Union comment is one thing, but I didn't know that the current leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has also chimed in. My goodness.

From the International Herald Tribune:


Monday's request for Gates's involvement by Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union, followed condemnation of the prosecution by Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, last week in response to the first question at his annual news conference.

"To grab someone for buying a computer somewhere and start threatening him with prison is complete nonsense, simply ridiculous," Putin said. "The law recognizes the concept of someone who purchased the product in good faith."


Great quote. This probably wouldn't be an issue with OpenSolaris or Linux. Just a hunch.

Mikhail Gorbachev to Bill Gates

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is asking Microsoft's Bill Gates to lighten up on a teacher in Russia -- Gorbachev to Gates: Show mercy on software "pirate".

From the article:


In an open letter, Nobel Peace Prize winner Gorbachev said the teacher, Alexander Ponosov, from a remote village in the Urals, should be shown mercy because he did not know he was committing a crime.

"A teacher, who has dedicated his life to the education of children and who receives a modest salary that does not bear comparison with the salaries of even regular staff in your company, is threatened with detention in Siberian prison camps," read the letter, posted on the Internet site of Gorbachev's charitable foundation


A Siberian prison camp? For probably using some outdated Microsoft software to help kids get computer literate? My goodness. Talk about overkill. Teachers have it tough enough, so I do hope Billionaire Bill and the Russian authorities back off. I can think of a few things in the world that are a tad more important than this, couldn't you? You know, guys, there is plenty of free and open source software around now that can be used without getting you tossed in a prison camp.

Monday Sep 04, 2006


Interesting -- Microsoft's PR agency admits it doesn't "get" blogs!. What's not to get about blogging this late in 2006? Just blog. The lessons are obvious, immediate, painful, humbling, powerful, exciting, and [insert your favorite lesson here]. But you can't understand blogging from the outside looking in, so don't bother trying. In this case, understanding comes through direct experience, not observation. Which means you have to blog. Only then will your opinions change or at least be based on something substantial. And if you hate it, that's fine. It's not for everyone. But who am I to talk. I "don't get" Web 2.0, so maybe WaggEd shouldn't listen to me, eh?

Monday Aug 15, 2005

Microsoft's Linux Lab

This is a really interesting piece to me -- Inside Microsoft's Linux lab. I'm most interested in articles like this because I'm fascinated by The Innovator's Dilemma -- how people on the edge create innovations that disrupt those in the center and how the disrupted respond.

So, Microsoft's Bill Hilf is running systems from all over the place up there looking for ways to compete and interoperate with
Linux and other types of open source software. Ok. Nothing wrong with that. It's nice to see Solaris is included in the list, but I don't see OpenSolaris listed. Yet, anyway. From the article:

[Hilf] started with the ambitious goal of creating a server room with dozens of flavors of Linux, along with commercial Unix software from Sun Microsystems, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Apple Computer. The goal, he said, was to have something "more mixed then any real, sane customer would have."

"No customer runs 40 different versions of Linux on 200 servers," he said. "It's silly."

200 servers? Wow. Now that's resources, eh? And I admire Hilf's honesty with the quote that ends the article here:

As a lifetime Unix guy, Hilf believes he is helping Microsoft to help make Windows a better option for companies than either Windows or Linux are today.

"At the end of the day, we're in it for business reasons," he said. "I exist for business reasons. I do not exist as a PR stunt or as sort of an olive branch."

Couldn't agree more, actually.

But earlier in the article I found this little gem as Hilf was working in his lab on all of this stuff:

More than once, Hilf was thwarted by bugs -- glitches in Microsoft software, glitches in open-source products and even in third-party software designed to help the two technologies talk to each other.

One example, Hilf said, was on the instant-messaging side. There was an IM client called Gaim that allowed connectivity to MSN instant messaging, but the program was not able to use the HTTP protocol, the only technology means available to Hilf. So he set his team of open-source software experts to write the needed patch. He submitted it to the open-source group that oversees Gaim's development and the changes were accepted.

"Now we can use it, and so can everyone else who uses Gaim," Hilf said.

How very community-like of you, Bill. I wonder if there are any Microsoft customers and developers out there who'd like to see the Windows source, fix something, and submit the code back to the Windows community so everyone else can use it. Now, I'm not equating Gaim with Windows on size and complexity, of course, but that open process just seemed to work well in this instance, didn't it? Ok, a bit if a cheap shot on my part because our house is far from wide open, but we're making substantial progress on multiple projects. And we sure as heck know how complex it is to open already large code bases for co-development. Our developers want this opportunity, and we are providing it. Albeit slowly, but we're getting there. :)

Sunday Jun 05, 2005

Microsoft's "Relationship" Marketing

(via Scoble) It seems our friendly competitors to the north are doing some marketing homework up there. Pretty interesting article in CMO Magazine talking about all this -- The Ultimate Bug Fix. At one point in the piece, Steve Ballmer talks about the engineering-marketing-PR-launch sequence:

During Microsoft's climb to the top of the software industry, rapid-fire product cycles often
happened without much front-end input from the folks in marketing. Engineers would develop
new software, pack it with bells and whistles, decide on an acceptable number of bugs and
toss it over to marketing for a press release and a launch event.

"The old Microsoft marketing style was that you did an event, and then you waited for the next
product release, and then you did another event," Ballmer said to the marketing recruits. Facetious,
perhaps, but the message was clear. Microsoft was not using its marketing function strategically.

Sound familiar? It does to me. Anyway, the article talks about how Microsoft's marketing and engineering teams are now working more closely together and how the company is improving its customer research tools and focusing on something called "relationship marketing." Ok, I get that collaboration part. But I'm not sure what relationship marketing is, and the two links in the story don't offer much more than traditional marketing buzzwords. However, in a Q&A Mich Mathews, Microsoft's SVP corporate marketing, is very specific:

The area that we are investing in like crazy is around relationship marketing: the systems,
tools and processes that allow us to have an ongoing conversation with our customers.

Ah, ok. The conversation word, again. I get it. But it seemed buried in the article. And no mention of all those Microsoft engineers talking to all those developers via all those blogs? I bet that's where the real action is. On the edge. With the developers. That's the way it seems here, anyway.

Next Mathews, like Ballmer, takes a poke at launches (good):

Marketing was largely a marcom function. Marketing was always out launching something
or doing an event when it should have been back under the hood with the engineers figuring
out the next version [of a product] that's not going to be on the market for another two years.

This bit about marketing and engineering collaboration is a very good point. Our marketing and engineering teams could stand a little more collaborating, too. But because of how much of our software is open source, we have the opportunity to go much further than Microsoft. As our marketing and engineering teams collaborate more closely internally, we need to also consider crossing the firewall and including community developers externally more frequently as if they were in the office right next door. I don't see any hint of that in this article, which is good, but I do see it emerging on OpenSolaris -- engineering is leading and getting closer to the community and marketing is beginning to directly engage in the community conversation as well. When OpenSolaris goes live, marketing at Sun will never be the same.

Friday Nov 12, 2004

Microsoft in Denial on FireFox

Companies get defensive when they dip into denial. Check this out in Cnet ... tell me that Microsoft is not in denial on FireFox.

[Steve] Vamos [Microsoft Australia's managing director] said that although he has heard other people mention the competitive threat posed by Firefox, he doesn't see it as a problem.

"I'm not sure that that is the reality. I have seen comments around that, but there is nothing I can refer to that really supports that," he said. Instead, Vamos said, consumers need to be educated about all the features already offered by Microsoft's browser.

"We probably need to do a bit of work to communicate the features that are in IE," he said.

Vamos, who admitted he has never used Firefox, said there is a lot of hype surrounding the open-source movement and that if Microsoft's customers wanted new features, they would have told the company about it.

"We probably need to do a bit of work to communicate the features that are in IE?" Wow. Wonderful example of denial.

Hey, what goes around comes around. We were defensive on .NET, Web services, XML (even though we pretty much invented it), Eclipse, Linux, and probably a few other things. But no longer. (Ok, Java is a tougher one.) We are primarily on the offensive now, which means we are no longer in denial in regard to rapidly changing market dynamics. Aside from some hangers-on out there who are still pressing the "Sun is Setting" line in the press, most of our coverage is representing Sun as being on the offensive. People may not agree that we'll succeed, but we are setting our own agenda now and not responding to our competitor's agendas. This is a critical switch.

It's fascinating to watch Microsoft respond to this stuff. Virtually all of their software products are under attack from open source alternatives, and Sun's new business model and development methodology for the Solaris 10 platform is only going to complicate the issue for them. It's only a matter of time. Ok, it may take a long time. :)

Wednesday Nov 10, 2004

Reality Distortion Zone

110904_theage Now here's a really, really wild article out today at The Age. You're going to love this:

Once upon a time it was all so simple: Linux would take on and destroy the Microsoft "evil empire" and liberate us all from crippling software taxes.

However, the operating system's success has earned a new class of corporate enemies - some of which once were friends to the open source upstart. Sun Microsystems is undoubtedly more threatened by open-source systems than perhaps any other major vendor and has made clear its intention to give no quarter to leading enterprise open source player Red Hat.

So, let me get this straight .... "Sun is undoubtedly more threatened by open-source systems than perhaps any other major vendor?"


Let's see ... just off the top of my head here: We ship two Linux distros. We do Jxta. We do Grid. We do We do NetBeans. We do OpenOffice. We contribute to and ship GNOME and run it internally on our systems (including my SunRay). We contribute to many other open source projects, not to mention a bunch of global open standards bodies. I've heard that SPARC is based on an open spec, too. And although Sun's Java technology is not under an open source license, it sure as heck looks like an open community they are running over there at the Java Community Process. And didn't we do something with NFS a while back? Not sure. Oh, and how could I forget ... doesn't the Sun Java Desktop System (JDS) have some open source code in it? And I'm dying to see Project Looking Glass, which is under the GPL, run as part of JDS in the future. Also, JDS runs on Linux, which is open source, of course, and it runs on the Solaris platform now, too. Which brings me to the biggest one of them all: OpenSolaris ... which is coming soon and will represent probably the largest contribution of code to the community. Ever.

Yep. Sure seems to me like Sun is "more threatened by open-source systems than perhaps any other major vendor." Scott may argue about that, though. Just a hunch.

Tuesday Nov 09, 2004

9 Years of Microsoft Software

Here's a really nice analysis by John Lettice in The Register about Microsoft's gigantic deal to lock in the UK's National Health Service (NHS) to nine years of Windows and Office. Nine years? My goodness. I can't get Windows to run for more than a year without having to re-install the thing a couple of times. I have no clue on Office. I haven't used Office since 1997.

I love the title of The Register's article, though: One standard, one Microsoft - how the NHS sold its choice. It took Gates and Ballmer to personally close the deal as Microsoft called in the big guns and offered deep discounts. The NHS had been running a trial of Sun's Java Desktop System (JDS), but my impression from Lettice's piece is that it wasn't taken very seriously. Who knows. But I wonder, will Microsoft characterize this as a win over Linux (since it was the Linux version of JDS) or a win over Sun?

Thursday Oct 28, 2004

Steve's Email

Boy, that's quite an email Steve Ballmer sent out today pounding on Linux and "proprietary Unix." Mostly Linux, though. I wish my emails got that much attention.Well, perhaps not. So, when was the last "email" you sent filled with gallons of fancy analyst studies promoting your stuff over the bad guys? Kind of reads like a press release, doesn't it? I wonder if he wrote it. He did sign it, after all. It was pretty persuasive, actually. Until you read Peter Galli's article in eWeek, that is. Peter found some analysts who have other opinions. I like these three graphs from Peter's piece the best:

[Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst George] Weiss even displayed a chart showing that Linux today—not in 2010—is already better than Windows servers in enterprise-critical areas such as horizontal scaling (aka clustering), security and entry cost.

And by 2006, Weiss predicted that Linux "will meet the performance requirements of 80 percent to 90 percent of single OLTP [online transaction processing] application requirements." And its competition for this gold standard of data-center computing won't be Windows; it's Unix.

As for open source in general, Gartner analyst Mark Driver had this to say: "You'd be stupid not to use open source as part of your application management strategy."

"You'd be stupid" ... that's my favorite line.

I am disappointed, though, that Steve didn't mention the Solaris platform in his email. I was hoping he'd give us a plug. Darn. Maybe he'll start pounding on OpenSolaris in a few months. Maybe we'll even get our very own "Executive Email" like Linux did today.

Monday Oct 25, 2004

Ballmer on StarOffice and Linux

An excellent editorial here from Dan Farber at ZDNet. He's talking about Microsoft's Steve Ballmer dealing with some security issues at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo recently. Linux and Sun's StarOffice desktop productivity suite came up in the conversation as well. Imagine that.

I'd hate to do Ballmer's PR. Check out this great stuff from Farber's piece (the sub-heads are mine):

Ballmer on desktop Linux ...

"There is no appreciable amount of Linux [desktop] anywhere in the world," [Ballmer] said, pointing to the study for the city of Paris that determined an open source desktop would have an unacceptable ROI impact. "People can sit here and read the drama stories from other parts of the world and assume they are true or not. People said the city of Paris said it was going to adopt Linux and the studies came back. It would be dramatically more expensive than Windows, and there is no ROI case for the next seven or eight years to even consider a movement from Window to Linux in the city of Paris. In Brazil, it's the same thing," Ballmer said.

Ballmer on StarOffice ...

He has also dismissed open source Microsoft Office competitor Star Office, describing it as being as "good as what we were shipping seven years ago," citing lack of total compatibility with Microsoft Office and a robust e-mail client.

The city of Munich, Germany has reached a different conclusion, despite recent concerns about infringement claims. Ballmer viewed the Munich deal as critical enough that he personally tried to persuade the mayor of Munich to stay with Windows. "Yes, we lost the city of Munich," Ballmer said. "But, the fact that the same story gets told 65,000 times, and there is still only one customer … still diddling around to some degree to decide when they are going to do the migration ... come on, where's the evidence?"

Ballmer forgets the Sun Java Desktop System ...

It was also unclear as to whether Ballmer was including Sun's Java Desktop System (JDS) in his scorekeeping. Although most people think of traditional Linux distributors like Red Hat and Novell when discussing desktop Linux, at least one version of JDS is a Linux desktop (it's bundled with Novell's SUSE Linux). Sun also just announced a Solaris x86-based version of JDS, but it only runs on Sun's AMD-based workstations. JDS is getting some traction. Although Sun CEO Scott McNealy admitted that it wasn't going to be much of a money maker for his company, JDS was viewed as having scored a victory when the Chinese-backed China Software Standard Company agreed to license 500,000 copies of the desktop suite.

Then this little nugget ...

Since then, JDS has scored several other victories and this week, Sun is expected to announce another major deal.

Cool! Anyone have any idea what the heck we're announcing this week?

Microsoft's Global Anti-Linux Team

Sounds like Microsoft has a pretty comprehensive -- and worldwide -- anti-Linux team going full steam ahead. This Q&A is from Martin Taylor, Microsoft's global general manager of platform strategy, talking to LinuxInsider:

Q: What does the platform strategy group do?

A: We spend time trying to educate customers in the marketplace when we think we've got a pretty good story to tell.

Then I've got a technical team. I've hired quite a few people from the Linux open source world to run a research and development centre.

Then we bring consultants from the Linux open source space to help us build solutions. We've got every Linux distro running; about 120 servers all with varying degrees of open source stacks on them. What we do there is help our product groups have line-of-sight when they need to know things about Linux.

Our developers have been heads down on Microsoft for years and they don't know some things that might be attractive or appealing in the Linux space. So we try to give our developers line-of-sight to help our product road maps.

We also add credibility to our externally-facing activities. For instance, when I say our file serving can outperform Samba, [it] is not a gut reaction but because I've had Linux and open source guys build the software environment [and] my Windows guys build the Windows environment.

We've realized that we need more direct interaction with customers and in our individual markets. Because, just as total cost of ownership is very unique based on customer scenarios, there are cultural and climate differences in EMEA versus other areas.

So we have a small team of people around the world charged with the same initiatives I have, but in a more localized way.

Saturday Oct 16, 2004

OpenOffice Disrupts MS Office

eWeek's Sean Gallagher has a compelling opinion piece here about how is disrupting Microsoft Office. What goes around comes around, I suppose. It's amazing what an open source community can do in just four short years. I haven't use Microsoft Office in, well, just about four years now. There's simply no reason to.



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