What do you get if you couple an email from Kevin Johnson, Microsoft president of the company Platforms & Services Division, to employees about the Yahoo deal and the software giant's pledge to be more interoperable with the open source world? One big moment to prove Microsoft is serious about this interoperability thing.
On Thursday, Microsoft announced its big plans to become more interoperable with open source software. The move was met with a lot of skepticism and made for some entertaining debate. On Friday, Johnson launched his memo to employees (Techmeme). The letter was designed to deliver the message that Microsoft is serious about the purchase of Yahoo and address any employee concerns. The email was also designed for Yahoo employees to read. But this passage stuck out for me:
Q:If we move forward with a combination, what’s our plan for addressing Yahoo!’s technology infrastructure, since it’s non-Windows based?
A:Services we’ve acquired over the years have been based on both Windows and open source technologies.Although Windows is our strategic platform and in some cases the teams ultimately migrated their products to Windows for a variety of reasons, in other cases we have prioritized continuity and have used open interoperability mechanisms to achieve effective systems integration.Yahoo! has made significant investments in both its skills and technologies, so we would work closely with Yahoo! engineers to make pragmatic platform and integration methodology decisions as appropriate, prioritizing above all how those decisions would impact customers.
Yahoo has invested heavily in open source. Microsoft obviously is a Windows shop. How do you rectify the two? You connect the infrastructure without nuking Yahoo's investment. If that happens, Microsoft will have one massive case study to take to the market. Microsoft will have its "prove it" moment about interoperability and can silence a lot of critics.