Bloggers Sound off on Open Source Implications of Microsoft-Yahoo

Lora Bentley

Microsoft's $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo is all over the news, of course, and pundits are analyzing the possibility from all angles. Will a Microsoft/Yahoo combo give Google a run for its money? Will the government gear up for yet another antitrust investigation? Does it automatically take the sting out of (and the suspicion away from) the Google-DoubleClick deal? blogger Matt Asay raises another relevant question: If the deal goes through, what implications will a Microsoft-Yahoo combination have for open source? In his view, it puts Microsoft squarely in the open source game -- like it or not:

Yahoo has increasingly been involved with open source over the past year. Zimbra. Hadoop. Yahoo User Interface Library. Etc. Yahoo has been aggressively moving down the open-source road. Would Microsoft help or hinder that progression?

Asay concludes that it will be a good thing overall, and it might also have what he calls a "silver lining" for open source:

I suspect that it would give Microsoft a convenient excuse to reverse course on its open-source antipathy and embrace it -- at least in the context of the Web.

ZDNet's Paula Rooney does not agree. In Yahoo! buy would give Microsoft ownership of open source e-mail, projects, code. Ugh, she notes that the buy would give Microsoft control of Zimbra, which Yahoo bought last year, the BSD infrastructure on which Zimbra is built and the open source projects that Yahoo sponsors.


She concedes the move makes sense for Microsoft as a business, and for Yahoo and its shareholders, but she's not convinced it's good for open source. She voices her concern this way:

[W]hat about the open source developers who built Zimbra? What about all the Zimbra customers who bought into the open source e-mail specifically because it was an alternative to Outlook and other proprietary offerings? Will Microsoft crush Zimbra into non-existence? Feed the Zimbra features into Outlook?

Both bloggers raise valid points. And I would imagine they will both be proved right to a certain extent. Either way, it will be interesting to watch.

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