Reclaiming FUD

Now that a senior IBM executive, Doug Heintzman, has come out and guaranteed that we will not be ‘monetizing’ the office space, I can reveal the raison d’être behind the whole ODF/Symphony strategy.

Microsoft naturally thought this was about selling support and services to customers, but Doug has stood up publicly in the press and put that myth to rest. (It is a shame to miss out on that 3000 per seat switching bonanza though)

This was about something entirely different, it was a matter of pride.

Some of you might recall the times when IBM was synonymous with FUD.  When Gene Amdahl left to start his own mainframe business, he already knew about FUD, he was resigned to it’s inevitability.  That’s because, as an IBM’er, it was imbued into his very fabric, as one of the core company values.

We invented, refined and introduced FUD to the world, we are the birth mother of FUD.

However, in the late 90’s, we let our guard down and Microsoft moved in on our space. (I bet it was an ex-IBM employee that taught them the ropes)  Ever since that fateful day, we determined to regain and retain our crown.

And that is why we have invested so much into making Microsoft suffer.  The entire ODF caper has been about having a FUD platform to use against one of Microsoft’s most profitable business divisions, Office.

And what a platform it has been.

Ironically, we used interoperability as one of our weapons. We know all about the value of that, using the old “incompatibility” trick with ODF, just as we had made the System/360 instruction set incompatible back when we set about crushing Gene. 

We also tried to get governments to mandate ODF, the very same organizations that irritated us with anti-trust judgements such as the one that allowed Gene into the game at all.  Well, we learnt how to game that system and stung Microsoft for 775 million.

I must admit, it has been difficult for IBM to hold their nose when dealing with these open source riff-raff, but they have certainly served their purpose.  Never has there been such a cheap source of labor, coupled with fervent evangelism, exploited for so little cost (well without lawsuits or Amnesty International being involved). Unfortunately, with the recession coming, I fear many of them will have to do some real work for a while.

Microsoft take note that we do not easily forget, we are still punishing Gene and his apprentices.  We are serious about enforcing patents (and we get more every year than anyone else) and will actually do it, this is one area where FUD is not enough. No-one messes with OUR monopoly.

Explore posts in the same categories: ODF, OOXML, Standards

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