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Microsoft and Sun Seeing each other

india Updated: Sep 15, 2007 20:54 IST
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"All the world's a stage" Mr. William Shakespeare



The corporate world is the strangest of places perhaps even more interesting than the soap operas and stage, nobody knows what the next episode promises. Consider the case of sworn tech rivals Microsoft and Sun. Till the beginning of this month the much heated debate over standards where Sun opposed Microsoft's Open XML tooth and nail and fired missile after missile is now warming (actually make it heating) up to Microsoft. If that sounds too good to be true then the fact the heat of the new alliance is currently a hot topic in the tech arena will make it more believable. An optimistic Forbes sees this as "Sun Streams through Windows". And the big news is that Sun will now begin selling computer servers running Microsoft Window! Yes, I wrote it correct it's SUN.

Microsoft - Sun - The Great Rivalry

Perhaps sun and moon would have agreed to switch sides but Sun actually shining through Windows was the remotest possibility one could ever think. Yet in 2004 they decided to at least start dating. In the current episode they seem to have really got close. In not too distant past Sun co-founder and Chairman Scott McNealy had called Microsoft's Windows operating system as a "welded-shut hairball" and that Microsoft is run by "Ballmer and Butthead."

More such gems can quoted but when both parties are actually deciding to clear the laundry list best not to raise them. However worth mentioning is the OOXML versus ODF debate in which Sun vehemently derided Microsoft and OOXML. If Sun can actually sell Windows what was the big deal about not supporting the OOXML and even going to the extent of going against the multiple standards logic? Simple question but answers don't seem coming. That's how corporate politics work.

Microsoft Renewed - now sold open

Nobody sleeps with the enemy. Is Microsoft being large hearted or is this the new face of Microsoft? Or is perhaps Microsoft treading the middle path balancing between proprietary and open? The latter is perhaps the reason. Changing times and changing tech markets dictate a different logic than what was true maybe five years ago. The tech world is changing onto a collaborative platform, one that is open and on another level its individual wisdom that's driving the collective applications worldwide. The market diktat - combined with new knowledge and resource pool and the Open Community is suddenly so a huge attraction. Google has been playing their godfather ever since they started. IBM is now doing the same. Perhaps securing its turf may have been a reason why IBM got onto a direct confrontation with Microsoft on the standards debate.

So is Microsoft really cozying with the Open Source? Perhaps there is truth in it. During the standards battle Microsoft said that they are opening up and actually embracing the Open Community. Noteworthy is they opened up the standards of their cash cow, Microsoft Office, something unthinkable till a few years ago. People like Mark Webbink, Deputy General Counsel at Red Hat, reportedly said "We commend Microsoft's efforts to reach out to representatives from the open source community and solicit their feedback".

Microsoft and Sun pact perhaps is a part of a larger strategy where Microsoft sees it as a way of reaching to a community where Sun commands respect and Sun sees it a way making commercial gains. A win-win strategy and serves both purpose.

The Sun and Microsoft Pact

Noteworthy is Microsoft and Sun did start the process of reconciling their differences in 2004 and signed a pact. The current pact is being seen as the two companies becoming closer and getting deeper into each others territory. Consider this Sun has signed on as a Windows Server OEM. Additionally, Sun and Microsoft will collaborate to further enable deployment of Windows Server on Sun x64 systems. John Fowler, executive vice president, Systems Group, Sun Microsystems said "Sun is now a single source for today's leading operating systems - Solaris and Windows - on the industry's most innovative x64 systems and storage products. Customers can now take advantage of the virtualization benefits of Windows and Solaris on Sun's energy-efficient x64 systems."

The Last Word

It's good to hear about the renewed romance between the tech giants. Romance is always good but it's religion that is the problem. In this case Microsoft is turning Buddhist and treading the Middle Path and Sun is being accused of turning agnostic and losing its "old-time religion". Will the love story continue or will religion separate them, only the next episode can tell.

Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist at www.cyberzest.com and manages www.thebusinessedition.com you can email him on puneet@cyberzest.com