Why is Microsoft teaming up with Microsoft Competitors?
Picture the scene from an alternate universe. It is 2019, Microsoft is building their own Linux kernel. They’ve also decided to build their default internet browser based on Google’s chromium project. They’ve then decided that it would be a great idea for Sony to build their PlayStation game streaming service on Microsoft Azure and iPad will somehow become the perfect device to demo office on. Actually, this is not an alternate universe. It’s just that Microsoft has changed a lot so. So, today, we will see why Microsoft Competitors are teaming up with Microsoft.
Why Microsoft is so competitive?
Why Microsoft went from being brutally competitive to want to partner with seemingly everyone? What comes to your mind when you think about Bill Gates, the world’s most successful philanthropist.
A friendly grandpa working to save the world. During chill interviews with our favorite Tech YouTubers, it seems to be the consensus now. But before he decided to spend 99% of his income on eradicating malaria and the like he built one of the most successful tech companies in the world by being absolutely ruthless.
Microsoft under Bill Gates was so aggressive in the killing of competitors that in 2001 they were slapped with the world’s most iconic antitrust law case. There are tons of online resources collecting all of the evil Microsoft has ever done like this.
Some classic examples include bleeding competitors dry in litigation light stuff like blackmailing OMS to exclude competing products and bribing Nigerian education suppliers to wipe Linux from school kids laptops.
Yeah! the old Microsoft liked to get a little dirty. Not only did they destroy competitors with their famous embrace extent and extinguished strategy. They embraced a technology added their own proprietary closed source software on top and then killed off the more open standard. They also guarded their own technologies closely and wanted nobody to have access to them.
Like how Bill Gates made it clear in 1998 that he doesn’t want to compete for office programs to be able to open Microsoft Office under any circumstances. As a fun bonus, Steve Balmer his successor reportedly straight-up called, “Linux cancer”.
We all know who is Bill Gates. But there are some facts most of you don’t know about him. So, I would suggest you to check-out some Strange facts about Bill Gates.
Although, I think his intentions with this quote have been misrepresented a little either way. They’re famous windows first then windows the only approach and their constant aggression and that start-ups and developers were wary of them.
Even industry titans like Adobe were afraid to license core technologies to them like a PDF, for example, because they were afraid of the ‘Triple E’ threat.
Why Microsoft is teaming up with Microsoft Competitors?
But in the last five years or so Microsoft has started going through one of the most amazing transformations in modern company history, they’ve abandoned their windows only approached nearly entirely.
They have started taking partnerships with Microsoft competitors very seriously and they have really started embracing open-source software. As well as in 2014, the newly appointed CEO Satya Nadella used his first public appearance to announce office for iPads of all things.
Through this way, he signaled that he would go on a warpath to move the company away from their old ways and open it up to partnerships. Too many mind-bending announcements have come out of this transition.
But the most important ones include Microsoft making most of its developer tools open source and available on nearly all platforms by GitHub. If you don’t know about GitHub, it the largest platform for hosting open-source projects and then making it free to use for more users.
This way embracing Linux by literally saying that they love it shipping a Linux kernel on some Microsoft windows versions integrating it with the cloud services. And they will be building their own Linux distributions to run on specialized devices and even pledging over 60,000 patents to protect Linux systems.
They embraced Google’s open-source Chromium project for building Microsoft’s new web browser. Let Alexa come pre-installed on Microsoft Windows machines. Also, let Sony build their PlayStation game streaming service on Microsoft infrastructure.
And brought all of their core apps and services to the web and competing platforms as well. This includes office to do, a dedicated Android launcher which is actually pretty great, Android to PC syncing with your phone(Phone companion).
Also, they’re working to make Xbox Live work on iOS and Android and even Nintendo switch.
Really the change couldn’t have been much more dramatic and the cancer is known to Microsoft as open-source software and friendly partnerships have truly started. Alone, the company became the largest contributor to open source projects in the world overtaking second-place Google, at least according to the number of GitHub contributors.
Instead of suing their competitors out of existence, they just started partnering with them now. Many people still doubt their sincerity and for good reason, it should take the largest bully of the last couple of decades.
A lot of time to convince everyone that they’ve just suddenly turned friendly and want to become everyone’s best friends. It’s also understandable that many think that these new partnerships are just an elaborate version of the embrace, extend, extinguish strategy.
But since Satya has been on board, his direction has been remarkably consistent and people are starting to take him seriously. Some of the oldest, most die-hard critics claim that they have forgiven Microsoft as the evil masterminds have all retired.
The developer community as a whole has slowly started seeing Microsoft as more of a partner putting them in second place after Google. It is because of embracing open source and competitors seem to be embracing their technologies too which is a huge vote of confidence.
I personally think that they’re very sincere but unlike what their PR department would like you to believe. I don’t think they’ve just turned nice overnight. Their business reasons behind this and Satya is just seeing things more clearly than the leaders that came before him for years now.
They have mostly been losing on the consumer front. Their aggressive obsession with Windows and building everything in-house was very profitable for decades. But they missed out on all of the next big things such as smartphone, search, social media, e-commerce, all of them while the PC business hit a ceiling and started stagnating.
Microsoft was not able to kill the open-source movement, the web, iOS, Android and the rest which have all grown to be too big to ignore or suppress so the company. Even under Ballmer slowly started leaving consumer-facing markets.
They are focusing more and more on becoming an enterprise service provider, supplying companies with servers, cloud services, enterprise software. While apart from maybe surface and a few other projects Microsoft never really felt at home with consumers.
While the other way, Apple and Google did it very well in the enterprise space. They managed to build up a huge and very profitable business relatively quickly. This shift of them becoming a service provider for other companies that have really pushed them into this role of being a gentle giant.
I guess then being trustworthy and not backstabbing every competitor and suing them out of existence. This is kind of a minimum requirement if they want other companies especially their competitors to trust their data and their business processes on them.
Then these companies increasingly also have employees who use iPhones and Android devices. They have developers that need a Linux like environment to code in. And they use open source tools like darker and Kubernetes to build software as a full-stack enterprise solution provider.
Microsoft wants to facilitate all of those things not just supply companies with Windows and Office and call it a day. They want to touch everything. It is simply better business for them to have a competitor like Sony run Linux on Microsoft Azure than for Sony to not use Azure at all.
In that light, Microsoft’s new direction is not charity or altruism but simply good business as a little bonus cherry on top. This positive image that they have acquired by being friendly to other companies and to the open-source communities, it really makes Microsoft a more attractive workplace.
As well as software developers, UI and UX designers also find this attitude of Microsoft very great. You know the people who design apps and websites and stuff well. These are the ultimate scarce resources in today’s economy. These people are extremely picky in deciding where they want to work and whichever company can attract the best ones usually ends up winning.
So, for Microsoft to be attractive to those people, is a very large strategic benefit.
In the end, it is pretty much clear that whatever may be the turnover of a Software giant like Microsoft, it is necessary to be open to other competitors as well. The market cannot function for a controlling authority and this is the reason why Microsoft under Satya Nadela have tried to make changes in their ‘crush the opponent’ policy.
Now, I think you know why Microsoft is teaming up with Microsoft Competitors.
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