Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If Microsoft Loved Open Source, Who Would It Buy?

Could Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) take its cash reserves and buy an open source company? Why not? Who expected Oracle (NSDQ: ORCL) and Citrix Systems (NSDQ: CTXS) to become such big investors in open source. Citrix' purchase of XenSource sure has worked out--for Microsoft, in my opinion. And that example might seed a desire for more open source code in Microsoft's camp.

Just because Microsoft bought an open source company doesn't mean it would have to add its code to Windows or some other product, then give it away. Oracle bought InnoDB and Sleepycat's BerkeleyDB as ways to expand its customer base and product line, and it did so without putting Oracle 11g under the GPL. Microsoft could do the same thing.

I don't want to carry this argument too far. Some people will say Microsoft is about as likely to buy an open source company as it is to make Windows open source. Ah, check my thoughts on that topic here.

I don't think any purchase is on the immediate horizon, but I don't rule out such a thing happening in the next two years. Microsoft, more slowly than most, has begun to discern the value of open source code functioning with Windows and the rest of its product line. When Citrix bought XenSource for $500 million, Microsoft spokesmen acknowledged they gained both Linux and virtualization expertise from its close ally through the purchase. That expertise speeded the delivery of its hypervisor, Hyper-V.

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