There are lots of internal rivalries within Microsoft. One of the most constant is the battle between the Windows/Office teams and the open-source team at the company.
Microsoft's open-source team is continuing to try to build bridges with open-source providers -- emphasizing Microsoft's interest in making open and closed source products more interoperable in order to help customers. Microsoft Chief Software Ray Ozzie has made open-source interoperability one of his cornerstone platforms since he joined the company in 2005. At the same time, however, Microsoft's Windows and Office teams are continuing to use total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) and customer case studies to prove that Linux and Open Office end up costing customers more than free/open-source software.
On December 3, Microsoft issued a press release entitled "Microsoft Gives Businesses Lower TCO Versus Hidden Costs of Open Source." The subtext: Speedy Hire, a British company, is saving $1.48 million within five years by dumping open-source software for Microsoft products.
The Speedy Hire case study is not new. It dates back to December 2007. So why is Microsoft touting it today? Perhaps due to the recession and desire by companies to find ways to cut costs by using more free software? Or maybe to counteract the press around a former Microsoft developer's new book celebrating the joys of open-source software? Or maybe it's just one more attempt by the Softies to bang the OOXML drum, given a fleeting reference in today's press release to a need to standardize around a single document format?
Of course, Microsoft has the right to compete against open-source software and to use any legal means it likes to do so. But the mixed messages coming out of Redmond are somewhat confusing.
Is Microsoft really advocating customer choice and offering to help smooth interoperability hurdles? Or is all the talk about interoperability just a smoke screen designed to cover up Microsoft's real message that Windows, Office and other closed-source software is what users should be deploying, regardless of the corporate rhetoric?