What if Microsoft went Open Source?
Open Source seems to be a growing movement. Not everything is part of the “GNU General Public License” though. Some have even gone as far to make their own Public License standard.
Microsoft does have some Open Source to them, but what would happen if they took their Operating System to that standard? Would people accept the Microsoft OS, or would they finally make the switch to Linux?
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According to opensource.org, Open Source software follows these directives:
1. Free Redistribution with no royalties from resale.
2. Inclusion of Source Code
3. All Modifications and derived works must be allowed to be distributed
4. The integrity of the source code is intact.
5. There must be no discrimination or restriction for who can use it.
6. Must not be specific to a Product
7. Cannot restrict other software
8. Must be Technology Neutral.
There are other levels of Open software that are NOT open Source. Adobe’s Open Screen does not exactly fall under the Open Source guidelines. Because of this, Adobe can control their technology. While you can develop an SWF or FLV, you will still be restricted in using the Flash Player itself.
A couple days ago I reported on an article over at ITWire: Are Vista users are being driven to Linux because of the questionable performance from the program. While people are not happy with the Microsoft OS, we still have only small amounts make the move. It might eventually make an impact, but right now, we live in a Microsoft world.
Back in 2003, Linux.com asked the question “What if Microsoft decided to go Open Source?” In the article, Donald Rosenberg speculated that the retail price would drop to pretty much nothing. However Microsoft would then be used on a wider basis giving it more penetration to the market. The new focus of Microsoft would be the “Service Organization”.
Still, the real question would be “Would people adopt the Microsoft Open Source standard?”
I think the answer would be Yes. With a Windows Open Source OS, they can make legal all those machines that was once not. They can run the programs they are familiar with and continue on with their daily routines.
Now, would Linux then gain popularity if Microsoft took the OS to OS? I would like to believe so, but the reality would be “no”. File structure is a good reason why. People know what a C drive is, but what is the file structure on Linux? People know what an exe file is, but do they know what it is in Linux?
Big business controls the market and ultimately consumer use on this one. You go to work, you live in a Microsoft world. You then go home, you want to use something familiar to you.
Apple is not Open Source. They claim to be in certain areas, but as we see in the Psystar lawsuit: you cannot put Apples’ OS on non- Apple hardware. But what about “Must not be specific to a Product”? Must not pertain in this case.
There would be too many hurdles if Microsoft wanted to go 100% Open Source. They might adopt a different standard close to it, but still need to control certain aspects. Call it “Open Microsoft”.
So will Microsoft ever try to go fully Open Source? Probably not. Are they greedy for doing that? I don’t think so. Sometimes you need a structured system to give people what they want. I wouldn’t mind a Microsoft OS that I could install without a License. A choice between a “Free” and a “Paid” version in a Open Microsoft standard would be great for those who want to continue to use the Microsoft products.