Open source invades Microsoft's competitor list

Microsoft flags new and drops old competitors

Microsoft's list of competitors is growing to include more open source software and web browsers, as the company fights to stay competitive with distributed computing, emerging PC alternatives, browser-based cloud options and always-on connectivity.

The company's annual Form 10-K filing with the Security and Exchange commission reveals that Microsoft has widened its list of competitors, especially in its all important client and server divisions, and in its business division that includes Office.

Form 10-K is an annual report to the Security and Exchange commission that provides a summary of a company's fiscal year performance. Microsoft's 2009 fiscal year ended June 30, 2009.


See: Computerworld's open source special feature
While competitive pressures are often oversold in 10-K reports, Microsoft's states the company sees a number of serious competitors pointing their market-stealing arrows at the software giant.

Microsoft acknowledges the changing dynamics in the PC market, along with growing demand from new devices and platforms, could undermine the company's dominant product positions.

The company added to its competitor list

Canonical, which develops Ubuntu Linux, as a commercial software competitor on the client side. Red Hat and Apple are also on that list, but specific mentions of IBM and Sun Microsystems have been dropped.

Microsoft also has added acknowledgment that longtime partners such as HP and Intel "have been actively working with alternative Linux-based operating systems" and adding competitive pressure.

In addition, the company has expanded the list of competitors to Internet Explorer to include Apple, Google and

Opera Software,  confirming its stated realisation that open source software is posing a threat on many fronts. In last year's report, only Mozilla was mentioned as a browser competitor.

Microsoft cites the economy and the growing awareness of netbooks as fuel for the growing popularity of Linux. Microsoft for the first time also calls out

Google Android as a competitor in the netbook market.

The report on competitors aiming at Microsoft Office includes Adobe and Zoho specifically, but no longer Sun. Microsoft has added 37Signals, Adobe, ShareOffice and SocialText, to its list of web-based competitors to Office System products.

On the server side, it has dropped a reference to VMware as a competitor to the company's server operating system. Instead it lists the company as a competitor to System Centre in the server management and server virtualisation areas.

The software giant has also added a reference to Oracle to go along with IBM and Sun, as competitors on middleware platforms that offer J2EE alternatives to .Net. Oracle is set to

acquire Sun for US$7.4 billion.

Microsoft continues to list Novell, Red Hat, Apache, MySQL, PHP, JBoss, Geronimo and Spring Framework as server-side competitors.

It has dropped specific mention of BEA Systems, which was bought by Oracle last year, as a competitor to its software development tools, but has added to the list of open source projects PHP and Ruby on Rails.

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