The self-proclaimed ‘new Microsoft' has insisted it is "not interested in playing hardball" with partners as it outlines its new philosophy on co-opetition.
In recent years, Microsoft has partnered with a number of rival firms on certain technology - its Office product was made available on Apple iPads in March last year and more recently, it strengthened ties with Salesforce by more closely integrating their offerings.
At its Worldwide Partner Conference this year, Microsoft's chief operating officer Kevin Turner said "reaching across the aisle" was a "beautiful thing" and the basis of what he described as the "new Microsoft".
In a blog post, Microsoft's executive vice president for business development, Peggy Johnson, said keeping the competition at an arm's length is not necessary.
"As a new Microsoft, we're taking a fresh approach to business development," she said. "I'm not interested in playing hardball. I'm interested in building relationships.
"Since joining Microsoft a year ago to lead business development, I often get asked how I think about partnerships. To me, partnerships are a path to innovation. By coming together with others, we're able to unlock new opportunities, chart new territories and reach people in new ways.
"When you work with competitors, as we often do, it's easy to think that partnerships are about competing for value. They are not. Partnerships are about creating mutual value. Competition is not a barrier to partnership. Even with companies that compete, if you open your eyes and mind to the potential, you can often find rich areas of collaboration."
She said her philosophy to working with partners is made up of five key principles: respect; listening; saying what you mean and meaning what you say; focus; and not being afraid to pause or reset partnerships.
Johnson said the fast-changing technology landscape means the latter point is particularly relevant.
"Even when both parties have nothing but the best intentions, things can sometimes go sideways and may even come to a standstill," she said. "So it's important that when a relationship becomes strained, that you take a moment to pause, listen to what the other party has to say and if necessary, hit the reset button. I've been involved in several negotiations that came to a standstill, but things got back on track.
"Sometimes, it's critical to look at an existing relationship with a fresh set of eyes. At the same time, what didn't work at one time, might work in the future. Technology changes. The business environment changes. People change. Wherever we are in a process, we want to maintain that sense of openness."
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