Friday, February 22, 2008

Microsoft: We're Going "Open". Yawn.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced they are not going to sue anybody for connecting to their products and they are going to make release for public use, documentation and APIs formerly only available to Microsoft employees. Included in the announcement are products such as Vista, SQL Server, and SharePoint.

My view, who cares?

The goal here is clearly to re-invigorate developer interest in Microsoft platforms. The problem for Microsoft is that I suspect almost no one will actually do anything to take advantage of the new documentation and positive Microsoft attitude. The bit of enthusiasm for this move seems like more of an I told you so regarding Microsoft's ultimate need to be more open, rather than anything really meaningful from a business perspective.

There was a time, four or five years ago, when people were really focused on interoperability with Microsoft's products. For the most part, that time has passed. Other more interesting standards have emerged and Microsoft really isn't the center of the software universe any more except with Office. Even though, through Windows, they still control the desktop, most people these days only write for the browser, which is, for the most part, standards based. People don't need Microsoft's fancy API's anymore.

And so, to me, this announcement is really a reflection of Microsoft's growing marginalization. Their impeding irrelevancy is, at this point, almost fully exposed, but they are trying to retain that last modesty protecting fig leaf. Unfortunately the wind is strong, and the fig leaf is not up to the task.

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