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Microsoft: Friendlier or Just Less Threatening?

Your editor is swamped with other responsibilities this week, so expect some short RCPUs. (Yes, we always say that and it never happens, but it's going to happen this week.)

There's an interesting article in the San Francisco Chronicle this week about how Silicon Valley has warmed to Microsoft over the last decade or so. The paper offers a couple of explanations for the thawing of relations between Redmond and the Valley.

First, there's the notion that Microsoft really is a friendlier company, that it was humbled by the U.S. antitrust suit of the '90s and that its leaders decided after that to be more open and friendly with the industry. The second possible explanation is that Microsoft just isn't the threat it used to be and competitors and partners alike don't hate Redmond because, with the importance of the operating system on the decline, there is less about Redmond to hate. Microsoft is old money now, the thinking goes, and the really obnoxious new kids on the block -- as well as the biggest threat to the industry as a whole -- are new money (read: Google).

We're convinced of Microsoft's staying power as a company, but we kind of lean toward explanation No. 2 -- if the issue is binary, which it probably isn't -- as to why Microsoft isn't such a pariah anymore. Sure, Microsoft has opened up to the software industry and open source somewhat (and sometimes) and has introduced some transparency and flexibility into its operations. But Microsoft is like the Dallas Cowboys (and here, your editor sheds a tear): a once-dominant behemoth that's still successful but just doesn't scare competitors the way it used to. Well, OK, Microsoft is a lot more dominant and successful than the Cowboys, but you get what we're going for here.

We're wondering what changes you, Microsoft partners, have perceived in recent years regarding opinions of Microsoft. Is Microsoft -- and are you, as the company's sales force -- meeting less industry resistance these days than you did, say, 10 years ago? Twenty years ago? And, if so, do you think it's because Microsoft has played better with its industry friends or because it's not as scary as Google is now? Or both? Send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 01, 2009 at 11:55 AM