Microsoft is the New "Open"

Trade Lots of Little Lock-Ins for One Big Mother Lock-in!

The last few weeks have seen some amazing revelations from Redmond. From what I can glean, gone are the days when they fought tooth-and-nail to lock developers in to every element of their stack. They've apparently seen the light, and decided that the way to make more money in is to be more ... open. Huh?

Forget .net as the supreme (and only) platform. Microsoft now says Java is a "first class citizen." Why? "We saw that more and more people were writing cloud applications in Java," Amitabh Srivastava, senior vice president of Microsoft's Server and Cloud Division, said. "... we're going to make the whole Eclipse integration with Azure be first class ... we're going to expose the APIs in Windows Azure in Java ... and .. we're investing in optimizing the performance of Java applications on Windows Azure."

For the past two decades, Microsoft has been trying to force people to use Microsoft for every stack component and every tool. The use of one component forced the use of another. And so on, until the entire stack was Microsoft.

Now, they're changing their tune: "You can't ask a developer to use a certain language or tools; you have to evolve the platform to support them where they are." True words, but who ever thought they'd hear them coming from M$?

If these revelations weren't enough, Microsoft acknowledges that HTML 5 will be more pervasive than Silverlight: "... HTML is the only true cross platform solution for everything, including (Apple's) iOS platform," according to Bob Muglia, president of the Server and Tools Division at Microsoft..

What's happening here? Why this tectonic shift?

Here's the answer: Bob Muglia wants to win the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) business, and he recognizes that to do it, he has to win developers and applications who aren't in the Microsoft camp today.  In his words:

"I think that people getting to platform as a service will be the key destination....

"I think there are only two other platform[s] as a service actually available in the market today: Google with AppEngine, and Salesforce. Both of those are very narrow and special purpose relative to what Windows Azure provides. Windows Azure has a much broader set of services that is applicable to a much broader set of app than either of those. "

And Microsoft is backing this with more than statements of intent. They are unleashing a several hundred million dollar marketing juggernaut to bring the world to Azure.

You've got to Microsoft credit. They may have gotten beaten up by VMWare, bruised by Amazon, and haven't been very well acknowledged by the cloud market. But they have made some fundamental strategic changes designed to accomplish one thing, and one thing only: driving more applications and more users to their cloud. But the leopard hasn't really changed its spots. They've simply recognized the control points in the industry are changing. Microsoft is being more open on the periphery to draw users into its monolithic, proprietary cloud platform.

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