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Open Source and Commercial Software

IDG has a little run down of how different governments are becoming pro Open Source as a means to cut costs. The report is here: http://www.idg.net/ic_874686_1794_9-10000.html

I was wondering if anyone here had any concerns or viewpoints over how widespread adoption of Open Source (and more specifically GPL'd) software would affect the commercial software industry? How do you think it will affect the status of the software engineering profession?

Kenshi
Tuesday, June 11, 2002

I think it will have some effect on the box-ware companies, but since they  make up a very small part (where I live anyway) of the market I dont think its a big deal.
ACME Insurance still have to hire people to write their new customer database applications because no opensource coder, no matter how enthusiastic is going to pick up their specs for the fun of it.

At most, I will have to work with Postgress or MySQL instead of MS SQL server and access, but thats acceptable.

Eric DeBois
Tuesday, June 11, 2002

But what about those "boxware" companies (software houses)? Where will the new applications come from? Will anyone bother to develop any if they know that a band of Open Source developers will clone the product and potentially drive them out of the market?

Open Source would also affect the profession of Software Engineering. Working as a corporate developer you are just another IT person - not core to the business; a cost centre not a revenue earner. Your status, renumeration and career opportunities will reflect this.

In a software house developers are the revenue earners and the difference in how you are treated is significant (I've worked in both environments).

And if you are a software house, how do you compete with Open Source projects that are clones of your product or provide simillar functionality?

Kenshi
Tuesday, June 11, 2002

>if you are a software house, how do you compete with Open Source projects that are clones of your product or provide simillar functionality?

Kenshi,

You don't. Enough customers stop buying from you at this point when it is a free clone to negate your business case. This is particularly brutally quick if you are in a small/niche market. Though if you are in a larger market the people who are willing to pay for quick turnaround on service and individualized attention might be enough to keep you afloat.

Your only hope is if the OS vendor keeps changing the OS to incompatible versions that the free software no longer works, or if it has serious flaws. But if it is acceptable to most people and is compatible with most systems, they will use it instead.

For example, on the Mac there are few decent text editors -- everyone uses BBEdit which has a free version that does most of what everyone wants and works OK. Because of this, no one can make a business model to create a better application like the far superior editors available on the PC.

So when a decent free alternative is available, competitors die and innovation stops. That's the nature of competition -- few companies with no competition improve their product much and if they are not creating the product for profit in the first place, continued development becomes even less likely.

Soon desktop (not business) software will be a dead field except in that it can be used to deliver ads, spy on people, or require the purchase of hardware.

Dead Ed
Tuesday, June 11, 2002

I don't think things will change much with the way open source affects commerical software.  Currently, there are some great open souce products, some even superior to commercial versions, yet the commercial versions are doing just fine.  (think of all the expensive webservers compared to apache, yet people keep using IIS and other web servers). 
      I have no doubt that a bright, well paid development team could produce a better product then 20 or so programmers working on something for fun.  If so, there will always be companies that want to spend the extra money to have the best products.

Vincent Marquez
Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Dead Ed - man thats depressing reading but pretty much how I see things going. Desktop software looks like its in real trouble, and I cant see too much hope.

Vincent - "Currently, there are some great open souce products, some even superior to commercial versions, yet the commercial versions are doing just fine"

I thinks this is because up until very recently Open Source was a great unknown, a risk in the eyes of companies and organisations. But the secret that high quality Free Software is available is out. Look at the IDG report - governments are seriously investigating its use as a means to promote security and as way of reducing their software costs. How do you compete with free if you need to stay in business?

Kenshi
Tuesday, June 11, 2002

>ACME Insurance still have to hire people to write their new customer database applications because no opensource coder, no matter how enthusiastic is going to pick up their specs for the fun of it.

>At most, I will have to work with Postgress or MySQL instead of MS SQL server and access, but thats acceptable.

But I want to run MS SQL, or Oracle, or something that scales better than the free alternatives.  People often forget that these internal applications mostly use commercial software as their foundation (maybe IBM WebSphere, maybe an Oracle database).  Someone needs to be doing research into emerging technologies - how do we fund that?

Dr Ransom
Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Kenshi, Dead Ed. What can I say? Them's the breaks.

Of course the other scenario is that your nice app is seen by Microsoft as a threat and they give away an equivalent with each copy of Windows. But no, that would never happen would it :)

As is always pointed out, most software is developed in house for use in house and for these people open source is great. I'm sorry if it means that developers don't get the respect that you feel they deserve but teachers don't get much respect these days either, and I think they are more important than the developers of yet another expensive and buggy piece of commercial software.

This is sounding like more of a rant than I indended. I suppose my point is that this is the way the system works at the moment. If the combination of software and service and vision that you offer is not perceived to be worth what you want to charge for it then that's a problem for you. It's obviously not a problem for your customers as they chose something else they thought would be more cost effective. I really don't know what the answer is. The next few years may be interesting unless someone buys some legislation to stop open source, and if that happens in the US it will probably be the end of the US software industry anyway.

Personally I'm thinking of retraining as a carpenter :)

Alex Moffat
Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Rant? Rant?  That's not a rant...  This whole thread is a rant:  I want to get paid for something that others are willing to give away for free.  Its like a prostitute wandering the Berkley campus looking for action...  come on baby, shake it...

Nat Ersoz
Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Open Source would improve the software industry in many ways. The negative publicity it's receiving is due to comflicting business models.
Programmers would always be paid and if you check http://www.sdmagazine.com/documents/s=1478/sdm0111a/0111af3.gif
you would see that the higuest paid programmers are the open source programmers. (The red is for programmers and blud is for managers).

mike
Wednesday, June 12, 2002

This seems rather simple to me.  Does open source software create demand?  Or does it supply demand?  I would say that it supplies demand, therefore there will be less demand, therefore my salary will eventually suffer.  Of course, I'm just simple minded, so maybe that explains it. 

those who know me have no need of my name
Wednesday, June 12, 2002

At the moment, opensource benefits developers more than users.  (More tools than end-user apps.)  Therefore opensource helps developer productivity.  Enables developers to meet demand.  It is a mistake to consider this a completely antagonistic relationship.

I've seen many companies piss away too much money on Microsoft licenses, some groupware, blah, whatever.  It's like misguided crack dealers buying crack from other dealers currently in vogue.

anon
Wednesday, June 12, 2002

So anon, if the open source tools weren't available, what effect would that have on demand?  Wouldn't you have to buy the tool from a company?  Or wouldn't you have to hire in-house programmers to write the tool?  Or something else?  Take gcc for example.  What if gcc disappeared tomorrow?  What effect would that have on demand? 

those who know me have no need of my name
Wednesday, June 12, 2002

I think there might be more of a relationship between commercial software developers and open source developers than might immediately be apparent. Leaving aside all the "i'm gonna make the coolest mmprg ever" type projects on sourceforge, I'd wager the vast majority of useful open source projects have developers that are employed as commercial software developers. If OSS starts hurting the market, the number of OSS developers will shrink (as we all run to get jobs at starbucks), which will increase the need for commerical software, etc.

The exception to this might be university students/profs, but they've been around for a while without killing software.

Matt Christensen
Wednesday, June 12, 2002

I would think that you would also have to consider the type of "business" environment. 

For example, state governments would probably do good with open software and having a state application used by all 50 states would be beneficial - in terms of consistency and information communication.

But state governments don't have as strong a need for unique software as other businesses.  In a strongly competitive business situation, unique software can set a business apart from its rivals, and provide an extra edge by increasing productivity of certain business processes over others.

Competition on a level playing field is call either games or sports.  Increase the need for competition and the field becomes "business".  Further increases give us "war".  Through this progression, the playing field becomes really bumpy, even though the goal remains the same... "to win". 

Joe AA.
Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Losing gcc would have enormous ripple effects, including the loss of linux.

Let's talk about something smaller, like losing jakarta ant, or python.  Most people would use lesser tools to do the work of these.  Productivity would simply be lost.  There is a limit to the tools you can experiment with, if every tool costs you.  Many good technologies (check out www.curl.com) will simply die out.

But maybe you're right.  Inefficient markets are very profitable.  You probably notice that the strategy of most companies, upon grabbing a foothold, is to make the market inefficient.

anon
Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Where commercial software can compete the best is support. When I call support for a commercial product I can get experienced help and they treat me with dignity "Thank you sir and we appreciate your business". If I ask for help on a GPL'd tool I get "RTFM newbie". Some open source apps have overcome this by using a model which supplies the application and source then charges for the support and the fact that they put it in a pretty box(Redhat). I find these things at odds with each other because the more complex the software is the more support you will need. For a good example of where his leads just look at any large enterprise application such as SAP. It's every thing and the kitchen sink but the only way you can get in running is to hire consultants to install and configure it. It's a different model that has been pioneered by large consulting companies such as SAP, IBM, etc. The lack of good support, installers, and documentation keeps open source out of the grasp of the newbie.

On the desktop open source apps are seriously behind in my eyes, but they certainly have a large place in the server segment. Not to say that can't change, but the state of affairs now says joe consumer don't care.

Before anyone writes me off and flames me -  I have written and released both open source and commercial software and I can see the argument it from both sides. I myself don't really care too much where development goes in terms of open source-free/closed source-commercial. I would prefer if I could see the source of every application I used but I am also realistic and understand that people in a capitalist society need to make money to survive. If open source can address that issue and prove that a solid market can be established then it will have a fighting chance. Until that point it's gonna be a hard sell.

Ian Stallings
Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Regarding the remark about wanting to use something that scales better than the free alternatives: PostgreSQL scales pretty well, actually.  Certainly better than MS SQL Server!

And as for SAP, I'll just note that they've decided to give away their RDBMS.  They realised that their sophisticated users could provide for them, for nothing, improvements that they didn't have time or programmers to do themselves, and which their less sophisticated customers wanted.  Is that bad for shrinkwrap programmers?  Yep.  My heart's bleeding over here.

Acowymous Nonerd
Wednesday, June 12, 2002

IMO, the effect of open source software will wax and wane over time.  Open-source software will drive some commercial companies out of business.  Then, open-source software will ignore some niches (for a variety of reasons:  it's not interesting, it's too difficult, nobody's banded together on this, etc.) and commercial vendors will leap on the opportunity.

Open source is only as nimble as its developers' interests, and money provides a very strong motivator.

Moreover, open source is great for shrinkwrap-style applications, but there's a vast amount of software that's custom-built for a particular customer who has a particular need at a particular time.  That's something you typically can't get a set of open-source developers to work on.

Brent P. Newhall
Wednesday, June 12, 2002

>Is that bad for shrinkwrap programmers? Yep. My heart's
>bleeding over here.

This is why discussions like this always degenerate into flame wars. People get personally involved with the software or an idea and associate themself with it. You appear to be on the side of open source and associate yourself with it, so when it's questioned you feel as if you are being questioned.  So then you fire back with a "question", which is really an attack on something you feel threatens you, shrinkwrap software.  Open source is not you. Shrinkwrap software is not you.

Like I said before, I try to stay non involved emotionally with any piece of software or ideas related to software. Both sides of the argument are worth considering, but I'm not gonna lay down my life for either one. I'm going to use the best one for the job. I just wish there was a little bit more actual discussion of the issue instead of the usual fire and forget statements lobbed from both sides of the argument. Anyone can pick a specific instance where some party chose open source over commercial software or vice versa. Does that mean that one is dead and the discussion is over?

Ian Stallings
Wednesday, June 12, 2002

>Regarding the remark about wanting to use something that scales better than the free alternatives: PostgreSQL scales pretty well, actually. Certainly better than MS SQL Server!

Hahahahahahahahahahaha, best laugh I've had in ages.

Dr Ransom
Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Nice to see that balanced technical debase is alive and well.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, June 13, 2002

Think of software value as money spent vs. money saved.  If I buy a program for $50 that saves me $50 in time, it's a wash.  I'd be looking for an open source version.  The real issue is that software is expected to give many times the savings vs. its cost.

For instance, a $10,000 CRM system might have $2M in residual business impact over it's life.  The cost here is relatively insignificant.  Factors such as support contracts, company reputation, etc. become more important.

Companies that try to save the $10,000 will pay for it in the end.

Most lines of code that are written for the real world (just guessing) have a long "life expectancy".  I'd agree, though, that throwaway, one use programs, development libraries, or apps with little or no staying power are good candidates for open source.

Bill Carlson
Thursday, June 13, 2002

"The real issue is that software is expected to give many times the savings vs. its cost."

Well, historically the reverse is true.  User departments that had to staff up to support the "new software" instead of the expected staff reduction benefits are but one example.

Joe AA.
Thursday, June 13, 2002

""I'd agree, though, that throwaway, one use programs, development libraries, or apps with little or no staying power are good candidates for open source""

LOL!!!

Lemme see....
Mmmm..

- BSD Unix. Quite a throwaway..
- BIND. Of course, no longer used.
- Sendmail. Gosh! Only 90% or so "market" share.
- GCC. No way! No staying power!
- Apache. 60% of the world's "live" web sites, and growing.
- Emacs? Developed in the 70's (IIRC), but still around & kicking.

- Perl? Not used by anybody, really!
- Python? An unknown in the internet world...
- PHP? Nah! Just surpased ASP pages in "dynamic" sites. 6.5 % growth _a month_ since '00.

As for "not used, throwaway" libraries:...
OpenSSL?
OpenSSH?

PL-E-A-SE, when doing sweeping generalizations trying to support your POW, at least try to make some that don't sound like you don't know what you're talking about. I'm sure that's not the case, but maybe some people might think the rest of your arguments are as well thought of and as well informed as the above comment.

Have a happy day!

Javier Jarava
Thursday, June 13, 2002

Javier nailed it.

Nat Ersoz
Thursday, June 13, 2002

Yep I second Nat's comment!!

"Javier nailed it. "

XP Man
Friday, June 14, 2002

<blush> Gee, thanks! :) </blush>

Javier Jarava
Friday, June 14, 2002

OK, I'll give Javier his props.  Good examples there.  Lots of people are making a good living because of those products and I'm sure that flatters the creators, but the origin of almost every one of your examples was from within the academic world.  Grad students, etc.

It's not a fair comparison to the "real world".  In those cases, you have the "best and brightest" working for free (OK, subsidized).  There is great benefit to this, however "yet another boring CRM system" isn't going to be the subject of anyone's CS thesis.

You can't compare the United Way with Microsoft.

Bill Carlson
Friday, June 14, 2002

To respond to what Joe was saying, yes there are instances where software costs more than it's benefit.  If you believe this to be true on average, the software industry has no reason for existing.

Some people will always misappropriate or overpay for software.  As an industry, we take the money and shrug.  On the whole, though, it's a net gain.

Bill Carlson
Friday, June 14, 2002

Bill, to what you say about the origin of those projects being the academic workd, I have to say that yes...ish. I mean, yes and no.

I have to admit I'm _not_ familiar with the origins of all the examples I posted, but on those that I do know, I think I don't quite argue with your POW.

BSD Unix is, possibly, the most "academic" of all of them; after all, it was developed in Berkeley (spelling?).. but it was not really a "think exercise" than the way to remedy a real need, ie, in the (then getting more and more important) Unix was prevalent, but when ATT started to make "licensing" noise, the cost/benefit ratio turned sour, so they went on to rewrite the system, mainly 'cause the licensing conditions ATT was asking for were no longer suitable.

Bind and, perhaps, sendmail, are somewhat different. It wasn't really a case of "let's use this one or let's write our own". Both are programs that came to be when their respective technologies came to be. When the DNS system came to life (and, arguably, it was _because_ of the increasing importance of the "not-academic" presence on the 'net and the need to make it scale to "commercial" or wide spread success), there was no DNS daemon or utils. The Bind came to be, and it turned out it's so good, that no replacement has come. Also, I think most people agree that for "core infraestructure" items, it's waaay more important to be standards-compliant than, for example, HTML rendering. So we have a gazillion browsers, but almost no competition on the DNS front.

Sendmail was also a creature of the first SMTP implementations. And it was wildly successfull. As a matter of fact, I think that the only "problem" people find with sendmail is that it's waaaay overkill for many setups, and it's got "everything and the kitchen sink", so it's very hard to setup. Thus came QMail, Exim.... I won't put Exchange on the list, 'cause I don't think that MS was interested on a sendmail replacement; I believe Exchange was a way of "locking" the customers into Outlook, or vice versa, and only later was SMTP transport capabilties added (of course, you can say that it was a way of enhancing customer experience and delivering new features. That might be partially true, but ..)

GCC (and, possibly, EMACS) are different beasts, in that they were born quite single-handedly from the hands of one man, RMS. Of course, then it became popular, and started to get into all places you can think of, but the first versions were almost purely his work. So that'd be the most "academic" of all the examples (though, IIRC, before starting to work on GCC; RMS resigned at MIT, so as not to have any licensing conflicts later on).

OTOH, the rest of the examples came the other way round. APACHE (A PAtCHy sErver, see http://httpd.apache.org/ABOUT_APACHE.html ) came to be when the SysAdmins and webmasters of the (then stating) different Internet sites that were using the NCSA HTTPD daemon, as that stopped being developed, they started (1995) a common effort to pool each other's patches and fixes. So it was the users (some of them, commercial) who saw the need to pool resources.

Perl and PHP are two technologies that came out of the _use_ their authors put them to, and then people came and adopted them...

So, my point is, these projects came to be because of the "real world" needs of some people, and because those needs were shared for a big enough number of people who then gave a hand to the whole thing.
Take the example of Linux. At the origin it was a 100% "personal" project, but people started to help, not only out of the goodness of their hearts, but _because_ it was useful for them. And a lot of that usefulness stems from the fact that you can tweak it to your needs, ie, from having the code.

So, "yet another boring CRM system" maybe a good target for commercial development... maybe because nobody has thought of developing a Open Source version. But all the companies that need "antoher boring CRM" maybe would be better off it they tried to develop a "killer" CRM-core and add their own "touches" on top instead of re-inventing the wheel...

And maybe some of them have already figured that out:

http://www.compiere.org/
http://www.sellmorenow.com/anteil.htm
http://sourceforge.net/projects/opensourcecrm/

I'll run under my stone now, too much light!! :)

Javier Jarava
Friday, June 14, 2002

Thoughful post, Javier.  The IT world is a better place because of Open Source.  I have a lot of admiration for those that put their soul into their work.  Just like when a well-known actor takes a small payday to star in an independent film vs. a big Hollywood production.  This allows a purity of process and software as it "should be".  There is a certain beauty and elegance to great code.

Unfortunately, the market often votes for Hollywood and not the starving artist.  What open source needs is not more dedicated engineers, but dedicated marketing and support people.  Because these people are not "artists" per-se, they usually won't play "for the love of the game".  Companies are springing up to support open source software, and this is valid, but capitalism dictates that eventually these companies will try to do prorpietary lock-in, etc.

Also, we are living in a world where a sys-admin  may not know what a TCP-IP port is.  Commercial software companies give this person the means to spend a lot of money and get a bad network.  As much as I don't like it, this arrangement has value in "the real world".

IMO, the key to the future of open source is whether the products can hit the middle of the bell curve in terms of users.  This will inevitably require "artistic" compromise, which goes against the nature of the "crusading" developer.  I wish we could have it both ways, but I fear it may not be in the cards.

Bill Carlson
Friday, June 14, 2002

Bill, I do wholeheratdely agree with your comments in that what Open Source needs, as much as good coders / users, is a PR effort. Some efforts have been launched to do that, but I think that the real "win" for all would be, not to "out-market" everybody else, but really to be able to deconstruct the "things everybody knows" about how thigs are.. what I mean, the ideal would be to educate the "public" so as to make the decission more on real technical merits of the product than on the packaging and sales brochure :)

It's true that, maybe because programming is more "scientific-like", it has a standing tradition of sharing and peer review, while "the arts" have a longer tradtion of just the opposite, so there is no big ammount of "code sharing" between artists... but OTOH, as Open Source programs are getting a wider audience, slowly people are "giving back" in ways other than source code.. Or at least, that's what I'd like to see.

But maybe the special blend of skills or mind-set required for coding makes us more prone to sharing and peer-review? I'd like to think that's not the case.

But in any case, most mature open source projects are past the "Lone coder" stage by a loong margin. Have a look at KDE 3, for instance. It's not only useful, it even looks good! Of course, the "mindset" is "get it working first, pretty it up later". But we're getting there. You have linux distros now with all the eye candy of Windows Plus! or more (see Lindows, or ELXLinux, Lycoris, or Xandros, just to name a few). So I'd say that getting to "the bell curve is doable".
Also, with Re: to the (growing) problem of "clueless" <fill in the blank tech job> who are not more than point&cliker's... I think we have to strive, first, to rise the general level of knoweldge. But, per se, that is not bad in itself; when a product is mature enough, you don't have to be an expert to use it. I mean, most people do use VCR's but I don't think most undestand the way the image is encoded and saved on tape. Nor should they. Or cars; most people who drive a car couldn't tell you how the ignition / transmission works. Nor should they. The problem is when you a get someone whose only qualifications is that he's a good driver, because he know how to operate the controls proficienly, and how to get an extra mile per gallon... and suddenly he is in charge with the repair and keeping of a motor pool. Of course he's going to do a bad job, unless he starts to learn, and do it fast!!

So the task is twofold. First, educate those that are interested in it. Secondly, make it so that a "uninterested" person can use it, but making clear the difference between usage and "grokking" it...

Javier Jarava
Friday, June 14, 2002

As a software developer, I am not concerned that the success of open source software will  lower my value in the marketplace.  On the contrary!  See Eric S. Raymond's Magic Cauldron paper for an analysis of this thinking:

"Some programmers worry that the transition to open source will abolish or devalue their jobs. The standard nightmare is what I call the “Open-Source Doomsday” scenario. This starts with the market value of software going to zero because of all the free source code out there. Use value alone doesn’t
attract enough consumers to support software development. The commercial software industry collapses.  Programmers starve or leave the field. Doomsday arrives when the open-source culture itself (dependent on the spare time of all these pros) collapses, leaving nobody around who can program competently. All
die. Oh, the embarrassment!"

http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/magic-cauldron/x407.html

David Corpstein
Tuesday, June 18, 2002

An interesting thread, but missing one point of view. Open Source exists for many reasons, one of which is to combat the Microsoft monopoly. (Remember now, Microsoft has been determined to be a monopoly, which is not illegal. The current legal fracas is about the abuse of that monopoly power.) My following comments relate to the desktop, not the server side.

Consider the office suite, the cornerstone of almost any business. Microsoft Office has something like 90% market share. The Lotus and WordPerfect office suites are well on the way to becoming memories.

Sun and a large team of Open Source developers are attempting to break the Microsoft Office monopoly with OpenOffice and the commercial, but much less expensive Star Office. Should OO/SO capture significant market share, an important event will have occurred. Namely, breaking the Microsoft Office monopoly and giving the end user a choice. Perhaps more importantly, educating the end user to the fact that there is a choice; that there is a world beyond Microsoft. I think this would be a good thing for both consumers and developers, Open Source or proprietary.

I wonder how much of the Open Source effort is a result of an anti-Microsoft mindset? Would very ambitious products like OO/SO continue to be developed if there were a level playing field?

Jack Crone
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Jack, about "Open Source exists for many reasons, one of which is to combat the Microsoft monopoly", I have to somewhat disagree with you.

I have been "following" (as a "fan", not really a "memeber") the Open Source / Free SW movement since quite a while ago, as I've always been fascinated by it, and although there are those who are _very_ vocal MS bashers, I'd say that the most influential and "biggest" personalities on the culture (ie, those who do almost all the job; those who are too busy making things happen to waste time dissing Microsoft) don't specially hate or attack MS. Very few Free Software projects have been started to "attack" MS by themselves (none that I know of, but there may be some). Even SAMBA wasn't born of a desire to "bring down" MS, but rather to be able to share / use a technology and to open up the playing field.

As Eric S. Raymond puts it in his FAQ "How To Become A Hacker" ( http://tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html#AEN405 ):
"Q: Do I need to hate and bash Microsoft?

A: No, you don't. Not that Microsoft isn't loathsome, but there was a hacker culture long before Microsoft and there will still be one long after Microsoft is history. Any energy you spend hating Microsoft would be better spent on loving your craft. Write good code -- that will bash Microsoft quite sufficiently without polluting your karma."

My 0.002 €

Javier Jarava
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

I agree with your comments, Javier. My point was not at all about developer attitude or about the reasons for starting Open Source projects. I had in mind (and clearly failed to communicate) something quite different.

Kenshi opened this thread with, "IDG has a little run down of how different governments are becoming pro Open Source as a means to cut costs." Being a monopoly, Microsoft can charge any amount they care to. The cost to use Microsoft products is high and rising, causing governments and other organizations to consider other solutions. In many cases, the only viable alternative is Open Source. A clear example of an economic anti-Microsoft bias fueling the Open Source movement.

Sun, IBM, HP, and others are providing money, talent, organization, and publicity to the Open Source community. This support very likely exists solely to combat the Microsoft monopoly. Another example of Open Source benefitting from anti-Microsoft forces at work.

My original question, "I wonder how much of the Open Source effort is a result of an anti-Microsoft mindset?", perhaps should have been, "I wonder how much of the Open Source *success* is a result of an anti-Microsoft mindset?"

The answer to my other question, "Would very ambitious products like OO/SO continue to be developed if there were a level playing field?", is obvious, at least where OpenOffice is concerned. Sun would never have contributed this code to the Open Source community were it not for the Microsoft monopoly.

If Microsoft had to compete, software prices would be lower and quality would be higher. There would be less incentive to consider Open Source.

Jack Crone
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

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