29 May 2007

Will Microsoft Be Assimilated?

I knew that I knew nothing about aQuantive. Here, for example, is something rather important that I didn't know I didn't know:

Information available from Atlas' Web site indicates the Internet software company employs extensive use of open source software including Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Solaris.

Software engineers at Atlas' Raleigh office do client/server development in C and C++, software maintenance and "scripting", and developing and maintaining custom reporting capabilities.

Other sought after skills include Unix development, JavaScript, and those for Windows software administration like SQL Server and IIS.

The use of open source is not confined to Atlas with the second significant business unit Avenue A Razorfish boasting "we also frequently utilize open source technologies".

There was a similar situation when Microsoft bought Hotmail, which was running on Apache and FreeBSD for a long time after acquisition. Since aQuantive is much bigger, we can presumably expect Microsoft to have even more difficulty assimilating it.


Philip Storry said...


They'll move to the One True Platform just as quickly as they can without causing disruption to their customers.

The big problem with Hotmail was that, well, Windows was truly unsuitable. Truly. No scripting, configurations in registry hives that were inaccessible except via GUIs, poor uptimes and heavy overheads due to always-on GUIs.

The Hotmail team worked with Microsoft to reduce many of those problems. IIS now stores many settings in files, not the registry. Windows can be scripted via the Windows Scripting Host. Uptimes are better. Overheads are... Well, you can't expect everything, can you?

But most importantly, we have to remember that Microsoft will care more about the PR for their platform than they will about the total cost of ownership for this new business unit.

At the end of the day, as long as Microsoft makes large sums of money from their monopolies, the TCO in other business units is moot. A billion here, a billion there - not a problem. So a few hundred million on a platform migration that delivers no benefit - well, why not?

And Microsoft's shareholders won't sound so much as a peep, because the monopolies bring in so much cash that they'll barely notice millions being wasted on an ill-planned and pointless migration.

The great thing about being Microsoft must be that you don't actually have to worry about things like TCO. (Which explains a lot about their products...)

Glyn Moody said...

Yes, I expect you're right. But it should be fun watching them grapple with this one....