Nice hand you got there, Craig

May 4th, 2001

Craig Mundie, Senior VP at Microsoft, spoke about The Commercial Software Model at The New York University Stern School of Business today. Even before the text of the speech was published, Slashdot and others responded with predictable polarized gainsaying.

I’m not going to argue the minutiae of Craig’s speech or the whole Open Source vs Intellectual Property thing. For what it’s worth, I’m more on Microsoft’s side than the OSS side. However, you don’t have to probe the actual issues to derive analysis from this particular Microsoft move.

Here’s the thing:

Let’s say that things are as they are presented. Microsoft believes that their commercial software model will prevail. They believe the OSS community is misguided and will fail miserably if they insist on continuing with their flawed unsustainable business model.

So what the heck is up then with clueing your opponents in to their own folly? This isn’t the Microsoft we know and [insert your preference here]. What kind of poker-face is this? You should be straining to hide your glee that you’ve got a straight flush to their pair of threes, not warning them that now’s the time to discard and regroup!

That is unless you’re bluffing. Unless you suspect there’s an outside chance they might just prove to have a better hand than you.

Now I don’t know which hand is better, but it seems inescapable to me that Microsoft wouldn’t be playing this strategy if they were really confident about their long-term position.

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