Apple and Microsoft As Underdog? I Don't Think So, But You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

While Google may be perceived as trying to dominate the world, open source has not exactly made Apple and Microsoft the underdogs here. But you can teach an old dog new tricks and Microsoft may actually be getting the hang of this open source thing.

Dana Blankhorn on his open source blog has an interesting post up predicting that open source may be losing its "good guy" and underdog image. In the meantime, I say people are looking at Microsoft, Apple and other closed source giants from a fresh angle. Partly because of initiatives like the CodePlex Foundation, Microsoft is showing that an old, if not under dog can learn new tricks.

Blankhorn states that with Google increasingly being portrayed as the new evil empire and Microsoft as "the feisty guys up in Washington", it won't be long until rumors of open source lowering wages and costing jobs run amok. Open source will lose its underdog image and its Teflon coating may just wear off.

While I agree with Dana about grumblings on Google's motives. I am not sure about Microsoft or Apple losing their upper hands. Nothing is static and change is the natural order of things. Open source has made terrific strides over last decade. It may lose its innocence. But the "closed source" giants are not rolling over and playing dead either. By implication if open source loses its underdog image, Microsoft and the like gain it. Not the case here.

I don't think anyone will worry about poor little Stevie Jobs and Billy Gates being the out gunned underdogs in a battle with Linus Torvalds and the great horde of the open source. If anything, I think open source will be perceived of being on more even ground with closed source technologies. Customers will make their choices depending on what works best for them and not on religious grounds.

But this isn't your dad's Microsoft either. They are learning to use open source as a blunt instrument the same way Google is. Case in point is the CodePlex Foundation. Microsoft formed the CodePlex Foundation last September with the intent "to bring together open source communities and software companies for the purpose of increasing participation in open source projects."

Now Microsoft has just announced the first non-Microsoft project into the foundation. To those that snickered when Microsoft originally announced the CodePlex initiative, let it be a clear wake up call. Microsoft is certainly not some underdog worthy of our pity, but they are a feisty bunch willing to learn new tricks.

Microsoft embracing open source? Google as the evil empire? Could Steve Jobs playing an Xbox be far behind?

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