Microsoft has fundamentally changed its business model for solid commercial reasons.

It has pledged to work more openly with the rest of the industry, including the open source community, on interoperability and standards issues. The move brings with it risks to Microsoft and distinct winners and losers among Microsoft’s partners, competitors and clients.

The winners

  • WINE - if you know all the Windows APIs, you should be able to get any Windows application running on Linux quite nicely
  • Vendors wanting to get their client software interoperable with Exchange.
  • SAMBA – you will get proper interoperability with Windows File and Print services without having to guess the APIs. (Samba struck a paid interoperability with Microsoft at the start of this year).
  • Exchange alternatives - Zimbra for example will be able to develop proper interoperability with Exchange servers and have the ability to act as a replacement for Exchange.
  • Calendar and Workflow clients - they will be able to build proper hooks into Exchange.
  • Vendors and end-uses looking to implement web services and software-as-a service architectures, who require deeper and more consistent access than has sometimes been available from Microsoft.

And losers:

  • Any company attempting to sell hub workflow servers that competes directly with Exchange & SharePoint. They might end up having to implement Microsoft protocols. On the other hand, they can still offer interoperability.
  • Any companies whose secret sauce involved reverse engineering Microsoft APIs.
  • Google – as an open platform advocate – and Linux-focused vendors such as Red Hat and Novell. All may find themselves less able to play the “proprietary” card against Microsoft in the future.

John Abbott is a founder of the 451Group

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