Friday, February 22, 2008

Driving Real Change at Microsoft - Get Rid of Win32

Microsoft announced yesterday that it was releasing API and Client/Server interoperability details. Coming on the heals of the Microhoo! deal and Bill Gates publicly saying Microsoft is after the Yahoo engineers it must seem like Microsoft is going all open and friendly. But that misses a big point. Changing culture, particularly one ingrained and strong as Microsoft's, is not going to be as easy as publishing specs and adding a load of Yahoo engineers.

It is possible to change the culture for the better and the Yahoo engineers can play a big role, but they can't do it on their own.

The catalyst for the change is dropping the Win32 kernal and going with a Linux/BSD kernal. The Yahoo engineers then become evanglists and mentors for the adoption of the open-source kernal. The combination of the two provides a greater probability for success than either on its own. In a previous post I looked at why using a Linux/BSD kernal was a good idea so I won't go into the details. The difference between now and then is that having the Yahoo engineers makes the probabilty of sucess so much greater and faster.

Dropping the W32 kernal would be at least as radical shift in corporate strategy as Microsoft's turn around in the late 1990s to the web. We know the company can do radical strategy shifts and this would be the most radical and risky. But without doing something like this Microsoft is always going to struggle in a networked world.

I would honestly like to see this happen. It would be the single biggest threat to Google's dominance by stripping away the competitive advantage that open source provides the company.

Tags: Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, OS, Open Source, Strategy, Disruption