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Microsoft has not invented here syndrome

Microsoft in the post-Gates era is looking increasingly like IBM in the post-Watson era. But progress won't wait for the company to get its act together.

The story of how Microsoft killed its chances in mobile telephony by strangling Danger, a company it had bought only a few years ago, turns out to be a symptom of a much larger problem.

Not Invented Here Syndrome (NIHS).

Further evidence is emerging in the demise of its "Iron" projects, IronRuby and IronPython.

The plan had been to offer developers two ways to build dynamic applications -- .Net and an embedding API for other languages dubbed Dynamic Language Runtime. Now it seems if you want to build Microsoft stuff, you use Microsoft tools, or go elsewhere.

All this was revealed in a recent blog post by Jimmy Schementi, formerly a key member of the Microsoft IronRuby team. Schementi felt such bad mojo in Redmond he and his wife drove cross-country, back to New York City, where at least you know the muggers by sight.

Schementi said he is going to work for Lab49, and that should sound alarm bells. If Microsoft is losing customers in financial services because of NIHS, it's going to lose some serious coin.

Sure, projects like this could go to Codeplex, but they should have been there long ago. Had the move been made say, in 2009, with Microsoft employees like Schementi as commiters, a serious team from several companies might be in place now. As it is, the move looks like a code dump.

That's not the way this works. If you're interested in sharing, you share up-front. Watch how Eclipse works. If you want to go all-proprietary you keep your mouth shut until your work is done. Watch how Apple works.

Microsoft in the post-Gates era is looking increasingly like IBM in the post-Watson era. But progress won't wait for the company to get its act together. We can do very well without you, Prof. Ballmer.