Home IBM vs. Microsoft: Will the Open Web Change the Game?

IBM vs. Microsoft: Will the Open Web Change the Game?

At Lotusphere this year, the contrast between IBM and Microsoft could not be more distinct.

IBM is making it clear it is banking on a strategy that embraces a loosely coupled framework – a foundation based upon principles that are often discussed in the context of the open Web. For instance, as we mentioned yesterday, xPages, HTML5 and RESTful Web services will all be tools that push forward efforts such as Project Vulcan, the next generation of Lotus Notes unveiled here at Lotusphere this week.

Sharepoint, in contrast, is an enterprise collaboration service that has leveraged its proprietary framework into a $1 billion business. Tightly integrated with Microsoft Office, Sharepoint is not an open technology but does integrate with third-party applications.

IBM looks like it has momentum with Lotus Live, which now has 18 million users. It’s coming off a big win at Panasonic. Its open approach will be what sets the company apart from Microsoft.

In return, Microsoft has made it clear that it owns the market share in the enterprise, quick to point out IBM’s shortcomings, especially with Lotus Notes email. Julia White, director of the Exchange product team, said the company has 74% market share in United States companies with 500 employees or more. She says Lotus Noted email has a 7% share. In fact, she said, the Lotus Live win at Panasonic was not a major defeat for Exchange.

What’s striking is how the open Web may be the biggest game changer we have seen in decades. We were reminded of how far back the rivalry goes between IBM and Microsoft in a lunch conversation today with Martin Koser, a collaboration consultant based out of Stuttgart, Germany. Since the mid-1990s, Microsoft Office has ruled the enterprise with its operating system. In those years, its proprietary nature helped lock it in as the productivity suite of choice.

But now the tide is changing.The open nature of the Web has lead to what we now know as Enterprise 2.0. Companies are developing their own API’s. RESTful Web services are helping companies like MindTouch provide corporate customers with dashboards that can pull in data from the Web. IBM’s Project Vulcan will add an analytics layer on top of its collaboration platform. It’s a hybrid that will pull data from the cloud and on-premise, making recommendations for the user.

IBM executives are sharp in their criticism when questions are posed about the differences with Microsoft. That’s not too unusual, considering the deep and storied rivalry between the two companies.

“A struggle for relevance,” said Lotus Software General Manager Alistair Rennie about Microsoft and its approach to the market. “It’s a tightly integrated proprietary stack… It’s an approach whose time is over.”

It’s important to note that Microsoft Office is widely popular in the enterprise. It’s a $1 billion business for the company. Sharepoint has its own ecosystem of third-party companies that have integrated with Sharepoint.

IBM’s Web-based approach is distinctly different than the document-centric world of Sharepoint. It’s this Web-oriented, open approach that may prove to be the difference for IBM. We’ll have to see. Microsoft remains the major power in the enterprise. Its future is in proprietary systems. But who knows. As the cloud becomes more a part of doing business, Microsoft may continue to have the upper hand, especially if it can execute on its partnerships with third-party application providers.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.