Businessweek writes, IBM wants to promote and make open source available widely to weaken microsoft. Excerpts with edits:
IBM collects about $1 billion a year in licensing fees from its hoard of 40,000 patents. So it came as quite a surprise when IBM pledged to make 500 of its software patents, valued at about $10 million, freely available to open-source software projects such as the Linux operating system and the Apache Web page server software. Why would IBM allow others to use its intellectual property free of charge? In a word: Microsoft The move is central to IBM's efforts to fend off Microsoft and its Windows monopoly. While the computing giant will continue to innovate and gather new patents as aggressively as ever, at the same time it is stepping up efforts to bolster the world of open-source software. IBM figures that doing so will give it a leg up in selling the software and services that work with the open-source programs it helped develop. And that in turn should help it gain an edge against Microsoft. "They're poking their thumb in Microsoft's eye," says Alfred S. Chuang, chief executive of software maker BEA System, a competitor of both tech giants.
It's striking how different IBM's strategy is from Microsoft's. Microsoft, is building a legal team to enforce intellectual-property claims. to protect its monopoly IBM has a different tack. In a strategy it calls "collaborative innovation," it shares some of its intellectual property, hoping to bolster open-source alternatives to Windows, such as Linux. "It's a blending of both worlds, a balancing of proprietary and open technologies," and It helps IBM create a non-Microsoft ecosystem. By selling a server with Linux, IBM boosts chances of selling databases, application integration software, and services. Big Blue is also creating "innovation networks," says forrester research. "No single company can have all the answers. They can't rely on themselves for all the innovations. They need partners". IBM is really exhibiting good strategic depth in their thinking in promoting and making opensource widely available.