Microsoft and the "Open" Ecosystem

In the past decade, the battle of products became a battle of ecosystems. The initial proponent of this seems to have been Apple, but Google and Microsoft also looked to be following suit.

Apple initially started this with their whole "Better Together" campaign, and their stores where you could walk in and essentially buy into the whole ecosystem. This also had the advantage of introducing iPod users (many of whom never had used a Mac) to other Apple products. Followed by an excellent phone, a tablet based on the same OS, and the iCloud to tie them together, Apple really pushed/pushes the ecosystem model.

Google originally had very distinct products in Search, GMail, and Docs but has also started to tie stuff together. It brought together its store under the "Play" brand, and started to tie together it's popular products with Google+. Google Drive is heavily integrated with Docs, and both Google Music and Google Voice really only work very smoothly with Android, with iOS seeming like an after-thought at best. (Google Drive seems to be an exception to this: they have a Mac app (iOS in the works), possibly to be a credible threat to Dropbox?)

Microsoft also originally did not have an ecosystem approach. Office worked with Macs and PCs, and Windows worked with pretty much any gizmo you bought. But then, for a while, it too seemed to be stepping towards this whole ecosystem model: the Zune software/Zune Pass worked really only with PCs and the XBox, the XBox could stream music and videos from Windows PCs only, and Windows Live Mesh only synced PCs.

But now, it seems like Microsoft decided against the whole ecosystem approach and decided to support everyone. They released Photosynth for iOS before WP7, Skydrive replaced Live Mesh and now works with iOS/WP7/Windows/OSX (3rd party "approved" Android app, rumors of an official one in the works), OneNote's been released on iOS and Android, and news is the new Woodstock music service will run on PCs, Macs, XBoxes, iPhones, iPads, and Androids. Finally, Engadget just published an article that XBox's new Airplay-like streaming service will also work with iOS, Android, and WP7.

What do people think of this approach vs. Google's vs. Apple's? Which do you think is better for the company? The consumer?