A decade that belongs to OSS
I just read an interesting Interview with Eric S. Raymond in January 2008 issue of Linux Journal. I liked his view on the reasons for Microsoft (obvious) fiasco with Vista (imho, we could say the same for MS Office 2007 as well), a quote from the interview:
‘Here’s an example of the sort of thing I mean: the Vista flop. Completely predictable, didn’t surprise me for a nanosecond, and not because I think Microsoft is staffed by incompetents either. It’s not; it hires some of the brightest programmers in the world. But, as I’ve been explaining for ten years, there’s a scale regime above which closed-source development is unsustainable as the ratio between productive work and complexity-management overhead rises. Microsoft was bound to reach it; the only question was when.
and later on, he continues:
The only thing I’m sure of is that Microsoft’s days of being able to ship competitive software from closed source are numbered, let alone its days of maintaining monopoly lock-in. The Vista stall-out, and the scaling phenomena beneath it, guarantee that.
How true! I remember a vivid debate, a couple of years ago, with my friend in the local pub (yes, usual geek talk after a couple of beers;-). He argued against my opinion that this decade will not be remembered by Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs and the likes – I firmly believe that this decade will be remembered by free Open Source Software and the foundation that is based on OSS – just think about it; I’m sure Google could not succeed without OSS — can you imagine using something like MSN with Microsoft Passport, instead of Google? Or some locked-in service from Apple, hidden behind the pretty (userinter)face and accessible from (Apple only) approved gadget? I don’t think so.
On one side we have proprietary silos from major software players with Microsoft standing on the top of the hill, others are trying to climb over each other to the top of this hill as well, lurking us to abandon Microsoft silos and move to their proprietary realm. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against a fairly priced software at all – as long as it doesn’t lock my data in any proprietary format and/or as long I have a choice to pick a (better) product from a competitor – I’m happy as long as I have a choice and a fair price!
In my opinion this decade will be remembered the most by alternatives that Open Source software movement brought to the table.
I’ll remember 80’s as the period of micro computers (Commodore, ZX Spectrum , Atari, Amiga…) that changed the way we work (and play:). Cheap micro computers allowed masses to get in touch with computing for the first time. The next rising celebrity of 80’s was a “dull” PC.
I’ll remember 90’s as the period, when we all helped to build Bill’s Kingdom. We were all busy building our local area networks and connecting the local area networks to the Net – a holy grail of computing, so far. Back then, the growth of the Net surprised most, if not all big IT players, including such “luminaries” as Bill & Steve. On the other hand, it was the growth of the Net, that allowed truly global, community based software development, something unthinkable a decade before. Still, in the 90’s most of the old-style, closed source companies were in a denial phase — in a line: “…no way OSS can compete with our
pricey shinny products, … , and what about the “enteprise level” support, bla, bla, bla….“. What a mistake?
I’ll remember 00’s (did I write this correctly?;-) as the decade when we get back some control of the software that we’ll use. We got back a choice. I’m not using OSS (and free non-OSS software as well) because it’s free, I’m using it, when it’s better than proprietary one! Being free is only a minor bonus.