Microsoft's Love-Hate Relationship with Open Source|IT and Systems|Case Study|Case Studies

Microsoft's Love-Hate Relationship with Open Source

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Case Details:


Case Code : ITSY072 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 500;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 500 + Shipping & Handling Charges extra


Open Source/ Managing Networked Businesses
Case Length : 18 Pages
Period : 1999-2012
Pub Date : 2012
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Microsoft
Industry : Information Technology
Countries : US; Europe; Global


This case study is about technology major Microsoft Corporation's (Microsoft) relationship with open source. Over the years, Microsoft had had a stormy relationship with open source developers, embracing open source in some ways and antagonizing its proponents in others. The company was hostile toward open source software (OSS) and closely guarded its software code so that its products were not copied. The company issued repeated patent claims against Linux and other OSS and resorted to scare tactics in a bid to drive customers away from open source alternatives to its own products. The case details how Microsoft's relationship with the OSS community considerably softened over a period of time and the reasons behind the change in approach.

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In its efforts to become pro-open source, Microsoft not only started increasingly hosting open source projects of its own but also developed major parts of its web infrastructure in the open. The case highlights Microsoft's open source initiatives which included contribution and support to various open source projects and environments. The case also discusses the opinions of industry analysts regarding Microsoft's foray into open source and whether the software giant would be able to change and integrate into a community with which it had never been friendly. The case concludes by discussing how Microsoft needs to enhance its commitment towards open source in order to gain a competitive advantage in the software industry. This case is aimed at MBA/MS level students as part of the Information Technology and Systems curriculum.


Understand the role of open source in the software industry.
Analyze the benefits and risks of OSS to an organization.
Explore Microsoft's relationship with open source.
Study Microsoft's open source strategy.
Identify key issues faced by Microsoft with regard to open source.
Explore ways in which Microsoft could enhance its contribution to open source.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Background Note 2
Floss, Fud, and Microsoft 4
Bridging the Divide 5
Open Source Initiatives at Microsoft 7
Launch of Microsoft Open Technologies 8
Contributing to the Linux Kernel 9
Supporting the Open Source Ecosystem 9
Reactions 11
The Road Ahead 12
Exhibits 13


Open source innovation, Open source strategy, Interoperability, Open standards, Open Source Software, Proprietary development processes, Open source development, Open source ecosystem, Commercial Software Development, Business model, Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD), Open Specification Promise, Free washing, Cloud computing, Information technology, Microsoft

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