Last week I was invited by Microsoft (Indonesia) in a small discussion. They have a guest from Redmon, Martin Taylor, who is the GM for Platform Strategy. We had a small roundtable discussion. Martin explained what his job is and his experience touring around the world. It was interesting that the people who were invited (four of us) were people who are slanted towards open source.
I think the aim of this meeting is to understand more about IGOS (Indonesia Goes Open Source) movement. What's the main goal of this initiative? Can it be done without specifically use open source? Why limiting the option? Well, I am not part of IGOS, so I cannot answer those questions. (In fact, I have similar questions.)
I pointed out that open source is not their "enemy". Perhaps, Mac OS X is. I am thinking of switching to Mac OS X. I don't feel the excitement with Linux anymore. GNU/Hurd is more interesting. You may laugh, but GNU/Hurd is coming along nicely. It's unfortunate I don't have time to tinker with it.
Another thing that I pointed out is that while Microsoft can be made very inexpensive (eg. through campus agreement in our case), we still have to go get proprietary applications such as Adobe Photoshop and the like. The result is an expensive platform (even if the OS is free!). Most open source and free software applications are available on Linux, but not on Microsoft.
I believe, one of the reasons Linux is popular is the availability of applications. That's why freeBSD is lagging (even though its networking code is 'better'). I can pick many applications (word processors, drawing programs, painting programs, development tools, etc.). Right now I am struggling to find a good drawing program that can generate EPS for my LaTeX document. I used to use tgif under X window. There's no good xfig-like program for MS Windows. (Yes, I know there's winfig. But, it's limitted.) I use cygwin under my MS Windows with FlyakiteOS which makes it looks like a Mac. (Why still use MS Windows? Long story.)
If Microsoft wants to keep leading the desktop world, it should port more open source and free software to MS Windows. (There are many ways doing it.) I don't think they believed me. Well, I tried. I have many ideas but don't have time to put write them down. Besides, Microsoft is smart enough. They don't need me.
As for platform strategy? Well, I have to put more thoughts on it ...