Re: [unrev-II]MS exec: Open-source approach is flawed - ZDNet Discussion Zaplet

From: Eric Armstrong (
Date: Fri May 04 2001 - 14:14:47 PDT

  • Next message: Grant Bowman: "Re: [unrev-II]MS exec: Open-source approach is flawed - ZDNet Discussion Zaplet"

    Much though I despise many of the business practices that
    spawned this giant monopoly, and much though I lament their
    loss of focus on user interfaces issues, I still find myself
    in total agreement with this executive's proposition.

    He does not claim that open source *shouldn't* exist. He
    merely claims that it cannot survive as a business model.
    One can like it, or lump it. But he is right. The value of
    a proposition is determined by how much others are willing
    to part with to get it. That is the nature of our economic
    situation, and no alternative has been discovered to date
    that works anywhere near as well.

    I note, too, that counter examples like Red Hat and IBM
    are all *hardware* manufacturers, who in fact gain a great
    deal from open source software. In such circumstances,
    making a profit on open source software is icing. Even a
    sizable loss is more than offset by hardware sales.

    For any organization hoping to grow and prosper as a
    *software* producer, however, an open source release
    obviates the "intellectual property" advantage which is
    the basis for the product's benefit.

    The only exception that occurs to me is in very large,
    very complex systems that require ongoing, timely support.
    In that case, yearly licensing fees from major corporations
    may well provide nearly the same revenues as selling the

    For any sort of consumer-level software, however, any
    version that works well enough to use is that one does
    not require support. (Development IDEs may well be an
    exception, but again it is corporate custmers who spring
    for support fees.)

    And if the next version is only a few months away, and it
    is free, too, then what need for support?

      At this point, I have a suite of shareware tools that are
      not too expensive, and I regularly shell out a few bucks
      when a new version comes along. Do I care whether or not
      the source is open. Hardly. I wouldn't have the time to
      play with it, even if it were. What I care is that it does
      the job I need it to do.

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