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Microsoft’s open source shopping spree?

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Could Microsoft acquire an open source software vendor? Yes, is the answer, according to Steve Ballmer’s comments from the Web 2.0 Summit. However, I think there’s some reading between the lines to be done here. Microsoft could certainly buy an open source user, but at this stage an open source software vendor might be a step too far.

It’s worth considering that Ballmer was speaking at a Web 2.0 event. As CRN points out, his comment is “a tacit acknowledgment of how thoroughly open-source development has reshaped the software market”.

This is especially true when it comes to Web 2.0 sites, many of which rely on open source infrastructure software at the back end and have created the front-end with open source tools and languages.

So was Ballmer talking about acquiring open source software vendors, or SaaS/content providers that rely on open source? The difference is significant.

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Also: And now Ballmer is buying all of Web 2.0, too

Ballmer may not win buying open source

Scanning the headlines this morning one point stands out.

Open source is about customers and developers. It’s not about strategy, not about marketing. It’s not, in other words, about Microsoft’s strengths.

So Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who admitted to our own Matt Asay yesterday he’d buy open source companies, may be disappointed. The Jerry Maguire “show me the money” days are done. It’s more about another Cuba Gooding Jr. vehicle, the largely forgotten Disney movie Snow Dogs.

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