Keep Your Eyes Open

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One of the unexpected benefits of Microsoft's desire to get some hot openness-juice is that in its effort to appear open it is revealing far more of its internal thought processes. Here's a fascinating document coming out of that – actually a job advertisement for the post of Senior Marketing Manager – Open Source Community.

Alongside the usual euphemisms - “Microsoft is committed to the long-term growth of open source. This includes technical collaborations, business partnerships, industry participation – and community outreach”: that would be embrace, extend, extinguish – it includes the following passage:

You will have the opportunity to help drive the strategy for customer-driven marketing designed to further the dialogue on the value of the Microsoft platform to open source audiences. You will work regularly with technical R&D teams and business strategy owners to define customer requirements and drive customer-ready evidence to arm customers and partners with the benefits of Microsoft platforms and open source stacks. Your work will be a cornerstone for a global thought leadership website and will be regularly featured in industry press around the world. You will also be responsible for ensuring that WW field sales & marketing teams have the right message and content to effectively communicate value to customers.

Let's just look at that a little.

This job is “for customer-driven marketing designed to further the dialogue on the value of the Microsoft platform to open source audiences.” That is, Microsoft is aiming this particular move at people using open source software, not those who are wavering from the True Microsoft Way, but who have already left the flock (or were never part of it).

The new marketing manager will “drive customer-ready evidence to arm customers and partners with the benefits of Microsoft platforms and open source stacks.” This seems to me the heart of what's going on here, particularly the tell-tale phrase “the benefits of Microsoft platforms and open source stacks.” Translated, this means open source enterprise apps running on Windows.

So, let's see, who's the loser here? Oh, look, it's GNU/Linux: moving the “open source stacks” to the Microsoft platform means swapping out GNU/Linux for Windows. Indeed, as I've suggested before, this represents the core idea of Microsoft's current tactics: to marginalise GNU/Linux, while making soothing noises to the world of open source apps.

Why might that be? Well, if you think about it, GNU/Linux is by far the most mature, most successful and most resilient open source project. Open source apps, by contrast, are relatively nenwcomers to the enterprise scene, with weak roots there. Bolstering the latter will do very little harm to Microsoft's bottom line; encouraging them to work with Microsoft on Windows ports, and then encouraging customers to play Swap-a-Stack will, though, undermine GNU/Linux's growing position in the enterprise.

So what this new marketing post amounts to is nothing other than a concerted attack on GNU/Linux. The point being that once use of the main open source program has been reduced, Microsoft can then easily dispose of the now-dependent open source app vendors, assuming they are foolish enough to fall for this trick. Let's hope they have their eyes open on this one.