Microsoft’s Mid-Life Crisis

Sometime between the age 30 and 45 men loose their minds. It’s called a mid-life crisis. You go to your high school reunion compare yourself to the jocks, cheerleaders and geeks you went to school with and take stock of your life. The old joke is that you hit this phase and get a new wife, a new car and a new job. Congratulations Microsoft – at 33 you’ve hit your crisis.

I can’t help but think that Microsoft took a good look at Apple and decided to start dating again. The first marriage with IBM ended quickly but Bill definitely got to keep the house in that deal. There were a couple of brief flings with Apple that took them years to recover from emotionally but they are good now. This latest fling with Yahoo is something. Real commitment issues there but can you blame them? Plenty of gossip in town about that one but PLEASE. Open Source? Are you kidding me? Open Source is WAY too young for you.

In all seriousness this says much more to me about the changing face of the boardroom than it does the cubicle. For Locutus of Redmond to support anything remotely like openness is an admission of nothing less than a changing of the guard for those in control of buying decisions. New leaders are moving upward in companies and are far more willing to accept product from communities instead of legal entities. These Google Executives have an entirely different set of expectations on every aspect of software experience, creation and acquisition. Don’t kid yourself. Microsoft is only doing this because they see market share threatened or profit potential in it.

Microsoft is aggressively fighting its age. Yahoo, a commitment to interoperability and free dev tools are all efforts in an attempt to make Microsoft relevant and edgy to hard core developers while also making it acceptable to new corporate buyers who grew up with the internet. Communities of young (15 – 25) developers will quickly pick up the “pretty” IDE and learn to code in Visual Studio instead of Eclipse. They will be the coders for the next decade and the buyers of the decade after. It has already been picked up too that this is a potential defensive strategy against EU anti-trust which doesn’t hurt the cause either. The result however is the same.

Microsoft may be aging – but it’s not going to be graceful. Say what you want about the guys in Redmond though. They are great business people and don’t believe in anything less than complete domination of the market over the long term.

More about the free tool debate and its impact to EMC in a later post. PS Thanks to SlashDot for Photoshopping Borg gear onto Bill Gates’ head – hillarious

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