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Microsoft vs. Open Source: Who Will Win?

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Want to get a heated debate going among technologists? Ask them this question: Can the open source software movement defeat (or severely cripple) Microsoft in the marketplace?

With little academic attention focused on this question, Harvard Business School professors Pankaj Ghemawat and Ramon Casadesus-Masanell decided to dive in. Most research to date into the OSS movement has focused on the organization and management issues surrounding OSS. Ghemawat and Casadesus-Masanell chose to explore the fundamental competitive dynamics question: Will OSS ever displace traditional software from its market leadership position?

"We believe that there is still a great deal of confusion and puzzlement on how this competitive battle will develop," say the authors of the academic paper Dynamic Mixed Duopoly: A Model Motivated by Linux vs. Windows, which has just been accepted for publication in a special issue of Management Science.

Ultimately, the authors believe, neither side is likely to be forced from the battlefield—Microsoft has too much market share and OSS offers too many benefits for users. But there are strategies each can use successfully against the other, as they detail in this e-mail interview.

Full Story.


I've read the document on this analysis, and they make quite a number of assumptions in their model. Its simplified, and maybe downright wrong in the end. (we'll see in 5yrs to 10 yrs time).

One notable thing is that they don't consider the effect of shareholders if MS were to give their biggest money maker (Windows) out for free. How would Microsoft shareholders react? It also can't account for the unpredictability of the community itself.

Anyway, from experience in engineering problems, I know that models aren't always correct. They are always simplified to make the analysis much easier to deal with. When you don't account for a critical factor, it will dramatically skew results, which could lead to potentially wrong conclusions!

Although open source has

Although open source has gotten the attention of many, by catering directly to the needs and demands of users, they still have a long way to go. Miscrosoft has been leading in market shares for so long. Thought open source provides positive changes that target user benefits, people still hold on to familiarity. As Open Source continue to make improvements to further entice users, Microsoft is doing the same. It will take more than just offers of a few conveniences to replace microsoft in the markerplace.

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