Microsoft has long benefitted from its work on accessibility. Blind users know that the best screen readers and text enlargement tools in the business come with Windows and Office. They are committed enthusiasts.
These same users also give Microsoft a buffer against open source standards. When Massachusetts tried to mandate ODF a few years ago, it was pressure from handicapped users of Word that did the most to stay their hand.
But the real news here is that AEGIS aims not to match what Microsoft has done but go beyond it.
The biggest problem for handicapped users today may be Web 2.0 and RIA standards like AJAX. How does a screen reader address a "word cloud" to a blind person?
AEGIS will address these questions through the Open Accessibility Framework. You may pronouce it "oaf" but for Microsoft the correct pronounciation may be "oof."
By providing an open method for accessing third-generation Web pages and applications, AEGIS could leapfrog Microsoft's work in this area and not just take back an important sub-market, but enormous amounts of goodwill.
In any case the effort will be fun to watch. My mom has been blind for 30 years, and one of my best friends recently went total, so I have a dog in this fight.
I wish both sides good luck.