Microsoft and Yahoo: LAMP, meet WAMP

After the obvious desire to takeover Yahoo’s unmatched traffic, the thing that most struck me about Microsoft’s proposed Yahoo! acquisition was what they’d do with Yahoo’s extensive foundation of Open Source Software.

Historically, Microsoft has had a deep institutional phobia about OSS. But Yahoo! uses PHP extensively, and Rasmus Lerdorf, the creator of PHP, has worked at Yahoo! since 2002.

This seems to make no sense. Unless the OSS and PHP backend is something Microsoft wants.

On January 31st, Mary Jo Foley published notes from an interview with Sam Ramji, Microsoft’s Director of Platform Technology Strategy. Foley rightly highlighted this quote from Ramji:

“Our focus is getting OSS on top of Windows, and I’m focused on (providing) interoperability between the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) and Windows stacks.”

She also posted this PowerPoint slide:

Boom, as they say. Microsoft wants to legitimize Windows as the foundation for a parallel WAMP stack. What better way to prove the viability of WAMP than running the biggest PHP web site in the world?

Microsoft may have finally realized that Open Source can be seen as a competitor, but also as free labor. Google and Apple, along with Yahoo! realized that a long time ago. Why try and compete directly when you can subvert it by becoming the dominant platform that software runs on? Instant credibility, and instant influence.

So far we’ve only seen the first chapter of this story, or perhaps the first act of this tragedy. The next phase looks like it may turn out to be Microsoft, Google and others fighting over Yahoo’s unfortunate carcass and tearing it to shreds.

Steve Ballmer has giant brass balls and Microsoft most likely anticipated that Google would do something to interfere with the acquisition. Microsoft is on the move. This should be an interesting week.

Disclosure: I’m currently holding Yahoo! stock and have previously owned stock in Microsoft.

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