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Is Microsoft opening up at last?

The software giant has suddenly begun to embrace its rivals' free-to-use software. What's really going on here?

By Paul Anderson   November 2009

With the recent launch of Windows 7, Microsoft is banking on a return to the technological limelight. It still runs on 90 per cent of the world’s personal computers, but the company has seen revenues slide and finds itself threatened by web upstarts like Google and the renewed vigour of old foes such as Apple. Microsoft executives plan to throw $9bn next year into taking on their rivals but, more intriguingly, they have announced plans to work with some of them too.

The longstanding thorn in Microsoft’s side is what has become known as the “power of free”: the idea…

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