In case you haven’t seen it, the Borg announced today it would do all sorts of things to play nice with open source. This is nothing new — Microsoft has been doing this Eddie Haskell “interoperability” shtick for a while now — but today’s announcement is significant for one reason, and it’s simply this: The Borg are no longer scared of the freetards, and no longer view them as a threat. Marketwatch has a story here. Money quote in that story comes from noted freetard Matt Asay: “It’s a good indication of Microsoft’s self-confidence that it feels it can open up what effectively are its crown jewels and not lobotomize the company at the same time.”
Self-confidence? I’ll say. Like, for the past nine months Microsoft has been boasting in private about IDC numbers showing Linux growth stalling and even declining; those IDC numbers show Windows actually growing at a faster rate than Linux in the server space, despite being on a bigger base.
Red Hat, the single company freetards always point to when they want to prove that open source can make money, has turned into an inept clusterfuck, with nothing but bluster and bravado and a deluded belief that they’re actually a thorn in Microsoft’s paw. Bottom line: they’re the new Borland. They’re 15 years old and have been publicly traded since 1999 and last year they did all of $400 million a year in sales. Microsoft does more than $1 billion a week. That’s right. Red Hat’s entire fiscal year is a good three days for Microsoft. Last quarter the Borg added $2.6 billion in revenues — that’s six entire Red Hats. In a quarter.
Now Red Hat is being run by a former Delta Airlines exec. And its SG&A is growing significantly faster than its top line. I’m no good with numbers but my friends who are explain it this way: Now that the Unix market has been decimated and the low-hanging fruit has all been plucked, the boys in North Carolina are having to work a heck of a lot harder to take down deals. Hence the boost in SG&A spending. That’s also why all the smart sales guys bailed out of the Hat two years ago, having made all the easy money.
Who else is out there to create a threat to the Borg? Novell is outright pwned. MySQL has vanished into the bowels of Sun, never to be seen or heard from again. Ubuntu? Look, it’s nice that amateurs can play at making operating systems. From what I’m told Gutsy Gibbon fixed some of the problems in Feisty Fawn. Hardy Heron and Indignant Iguana will fix a few more. Wake me up when they get to Zesty Zebra. By then maybe they’ll have pried 3% market share out of the Beastmaster’s hide.
Am I missing someone? Oh, SugarCRM. Okay, fair enough, a huge threat to Microsoft’s booming CRM software business. Ahem. PHP and some other scripting languages may be a nuisance but there’s no big single monolithic threat out there. SpikeSource? I seem to recall lots of hype about them when they were launched a few years ago but jeez lately things have been a little, um, quiet over there.
Face it, kids. I know it sucks to hear this, but .NET is winning. It is. I’m sorry. You know how you can tell? Ask all the open-source application makers which stack they run on most. Er … it’s not LAMP. And it’s not J2EE. It’s .NET.
So of course the Borg is more than happy to play nice with the freetards who are making apps that run on top of .NET. Why not? If it pulls more sales of Microsoft’s stack, and if it saves money for customers which they can in turn spend on yet more Borgware, where’s the hurt?
It’s not like the Borg got religion and no longer thinks open source is a cancer. They still think it’s a cancer. They’ve just figured out a way to make money on cancer.
Plus, they want to look like sweethearts to the Euros.
Open source has ridden the classic Gartner hype cycle. Three years ago was the “peak of inflated expectations,” and VCs would fund anything with “open source” in its name or business plan. Now the cycle has moved on to the “trough of disillusionment.” Reality has set in. Nobody is making money. They’re in the Slough of Despond.
Don’t believe me? Try going out and raising VC for an open-source startup that will compete directly with Microsoft. My guess is you won’t even get a stack of pancakes at Buck’s.
Also worth noting: While open-source is great in many ways, remember that the single biggest tech phenomenon of the past decade has been an entirely closed and proprietary system which was launched in 2001 (two years after Red Hat had already gone public) and which last quarter produced $4.8 billion in sales. It’s called iTunes and iPod. Have you heard of it?