Microsoft Shifting to a Service-Driven Model?

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In an article in the Seattle Times, Brier Dudley interviewed Martin Taylor, leader of Microsoft’s 18-man A-Team that spends their days publicly spreading Redmond’s own brand of disinfo and counter-disinfo against The Penguin and his legions of Linux fans.

Taylor’s a very well-spoken guy and makes some remarks that you will either find convincing, bogus, or slightly credible depending on where you stand on Linux.

But it’s what he said at the end of the article that was interesting. Now remember, this is a guy who sits at Steve “Monkeyboy” Ballmer’s right hand.

“My belief is that open-source software is going to help drive the acquisition cost of software down toward zero” he [Taylor] said, a shift that will require software companies to move “over to a maintenance and support model.”

You can see this a couple of ways. First, you can see it as a trial balloon being floated by Microsoft about a movement toward a service model. Personally, given what Taylor does for a living, I’m much more inclined to file this under more disinfo. Microsoft still sees Linux as a bugfart in a typhoon, and there is no way it is going to readily hand over it’s massive margins willingly – certainly not on the desktop.

I think what we CAN expect is for Microsoft to start limiting all but highly limited tech support for paid software to those who buy maintenance agreements – say, after 90 days. Hmm. Nice new income stream. And I’m sure that much of that service would be handled not from Redmond, Washington or Lexington, Kentucky, but from Bangalore and Manila.

I can hear the Wipro guys drooling already.