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Addition by subtraction for Google and Sun

If Office revenues decline, a lot of fuel goes out of Microsoft's stock price, which makes it easier for both Google and Sun to take Microsoft on elsewhere. Google and Sun benefit hugely if Microsoft's revenues just don't go up as quickly.
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Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on
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It's official.

Google will distribute OpenOffice and Java Runtime Environment. Sun will distribute Google Toolbar, and in the words of Sun CEO Scott McNealy "lots of money will flow both ways."

Really? I hope not. It would be very bad if Google were stuck with Sun's overheads, running expensive SPARC servers instead of cheaper Linux boxes. And it would be a shame if Sun were wasting money on the ad space Google sells.

In fact, this deal isn't about addition at all. And it's not about ego.

It's about subtraction.

Specifically it's about cutting off Microsoft's air supply, the air that comes in from continual, expensive updates to Microsoft Office.

Corporations now spend hundreds of dollars per year, per user, upgrading Microsoft Office. Office is no less important to Microsoft's revenues, and its growth story, than Windows itself.

If Office revenues decline, a lot of fuel goes out of Microsoft's stock price, which makes it easier for both Google and Sun to take Microsoft on elsewhere. Google and Sun benefit hugely if Microsoft's revenues just don't go up as quickly.

And where is the risk? Open Office is already open source. Where is Google's "investment" in all this?

Are there any other losers? Yes. The GPL is a loser. That's because Open Office is distributed under two licenses -- the code under the LGPL, the documentation under the Public Document License. Java Desktop, meanwhile, is sold -- it has a commercial license. Google, in other words, has just joined the camp of license complexity and paid software. Our friend Paul Murphy may smile at that.

The press announcement doesn't mention any of this, but the devil's in the details. And the devil must be paid.

That's my instant analysis. What's yours?

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