Open-Source Endangers Economy

Microsoft exec Jim Gray: ‘The thing I’m puzzled by is how there will be a software industry if there’s open-source.

So Jim, if I read you right, you’re saying that the commercial software industry is like a charity of sorts, and that customers should pay money for software even if equally good or superior open source solutions exist, because commercial software engineers are somehow entitled to the customer’s money?

While my experience with BeOS and Mac OS X make it clear that some commercial involvement results in higher quality products based on open foundations (due to cohesive vision, clear direction, etc.), it is also clear that many purely open source projects have resulted in products that are as good as or superior to their commercial counterparts.

Want to keep your customers? Then beat open source products on features (or service) — but don’t fool yourself that people will pay needlessly for software just to artificially prop up the industry.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is playing matchmaker – introducing deep-pocket funder BayStar to SCO, resulting in a $50 million windfall for the company that has made it a life mission to suck the wind out of open source’s sails. Microsoft downplays the connection. Riiiiiight.

Music: Gruppo Sportivo :: Radar

5 Replies to “Open-Source Endangers Economy”

  1. I thought the goal of the open-source movement was to give customers a (better) alternative to the established software industry? It seems like Jim is simply stating the obvious.

    As for the Microsoft-BayStar-SCO thing, daytime television couldn’t write a better plot. My favorite tin-foil hat theory predicts that SCO will eventually win against IBM, Linux becomes illegal, Microsoft purchases SCO in a takeover bid and then owns Unix. I believe at that point, the FOSS community would rally together and write a new OS from scratch and call it “ZINU” for “Zinu Is Not Unix” and then promptly get sued by the Scientologists because it sounds too much like Zenu.

    Oh, man… It’s 8 AM and I haven’t had my coffee yet. Who let me on this computer thing?

  2. Funny… I think a lot of people were puzzled by how there would still be a browser market after MS gave theirs away for free. (Granted, it became sorta more than free, since it was pushed into copies of Windows.)

    Somehow, I can’t come up with much sympathy for a Microsoft competing with free. :) Especially not when I get *open* along with my free.

  3. ‘The thing I’m puzzled by is how there will be a software industry if there’s open-source.’

    Seems like a straightforward example of the anti-pluralism trend in our society. Let’s translate into another sphere and see how it holds up:

    “The thing I’m puzzled by is how there can be democracy if there’s any state run under Sharia [Islamic law].”

    Yup, pretty much works.
    Garden variety imperio-capitalism talking.

  4. Just a footnote I guess:

    To hear Neal Stephenson tell it in *In the Beginning Was the Command Line”, source code you couldn’t alter as needed was an innovation introduced by commercial software companies. It’s a little scary how now so many people see it as the de facto standard of software’s ‘natural’ state.

    I think we need both kinds, and I think that once open source software becomes more widespread, even the big software companies will have to admit that it’s got a place.

  5. It is funny to hear this from a company who illegally maintained, and may still be doing so, a monopoly. (And this makes their false concern for the software industry insulting.) In fact, with the way MS has driven out the competition, I believe that this kind of free and open software is about the only thing that can stand against the Microsoft Monopoly.

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