Can we cut Microsoft some slack here?

Larry Dignan nicely summarizes today's news from Microsoft:Here are the four points beaten to death today in the tech press:Ensuring open connections;Promoting data portability;Enhancing support for industry standards;Fostering more open engagement with customers and the industry, including open source communities.I didn't think there was much to add until later in the day, I participated in a phone in episode of NewsGang.

Larry Dignan nicely summarizes today's news from Microsoft:

Here are the four points beaten to death today in the tech press:

    Ensuring open connections; Promoting data portability; Enhancing support for industry standards; Fostering more open engagement with customers and the industry, including open source communities.

I didn't think there was much to add until later in the day, I participated in a phone in episode of NewsGang. Steve Gillmor made the point that when it comes to openness, Microsoft is making a much better job of it than Google. Steve used the argument to suggest that a Microhoo makes for what's really needed to break down the problem of attention data ownership i.e. competition. Steve thinks what's needed is a tool that users can easily adopt that allows 'us' to move our social graph data around as we choose. Competition creates the conditions under which this could happen.

This is an interesting idea but I wonder whether Microsoft would be prepared to step up to that particular plate. I sense that regardless of what Microsoft attempts to do, it is tarred with a bad boy image that refuses to die. You can see that in the skepticism expressed by Mary Jo Foley and others.

I'd prefer to be more generous because in the last few months I've met a LOT of Microsoft middle managers who I believe really do care about doing the right thing. In that sense I agree with John Carroll. It would be unfair to single individuals out but the message I hear is one of trying to figure out how to organize and coherently communicate the value of what are after all, thousands of individual parts, that sometimes seem bizarrely grouped. Rather than 'bad' I'd describe the company as 'unsure of itself' as it transitions. Even so, my Irregular chums are not so certain about the announcements.

In our Google Group (sic) discussion, Brian Sommer, who has a long pedigree in consulting, specifying and implementing enterprise software asserted that:

This is a blatant attempt to pre-emptively look like their Yahoo deal won't lock up the Internet. This is a posturing move and it's one everyone, including FTC and EU regulators were probably anticipating. I was fully expecting them to announce a slew of stuff about why Google is the next great Satan and that only a strong MSFT/Yahoo can stop Google from enslaving all of us. I expect them to use the 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' angle in why they have to have Yahoo and why regulators should let them get it.

Fellow Irregular and Freeform Dynamics analyst David Tebbutt wondered:

It seems unlikely (ie too quick) but IBM has been making loads of 'open' noises recently. I wonder if Microsoft's cage was rattled.

I claim no more insight than anyone else but I am starting to wonder whether we should not start cutting Microsoft some slack. The PR effort may suck and the timing may appear cynical but let's realize what's going on here. A dogfight to wrest power from Google. I want that competition because as a contributor of attention data, I want the control to which Steve Gillmor alludes. As an enterprisey guy, I most certainly want to feel that 'our' data is under 'our' control.

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