Reality Check: Beware of Microsoft's gifts


Despite promises of interoperability, Microsoft does not disclose the technical linkages between its desktop products such as Office and the server-side products such as e-mail. You need these disclosures for full interoperability. Although the spin promises interoperability, with Apple, Sun, and Novell, I wonder if it isn't a brilliant ploy to ensure that IT will get locked in to using Microsoft products. Take the latest deal with Novell. Novell in essence has done nothing less than validate the Microsoft path. Microsoft now has a Linux solution coupled to Microsoft, adding legitimacy and the Linux cachet to Windows.

Further, the cynic in me says that through virtualization, Microsoft will surround Linux so that Linux will run as a guest on a Windows platform, with Windows underneath. In time, Microsoft might improve the function and performance on the Windows side, but Linux will somehow get disadvantaged. Then, says the Microsoft salesperson, "You are already running Windows. Why don't you use Windows up and down the stack? It works better anyway."

Five or 10 years from now as Microsoft continues this strategy, IT will wake up and discover it is not the heterogeneous shop it thought it was. And I wonder: If that happens, will we ever get the full benefits of innovation and competitive pricing?