Times are changing (Or?)

A very interesting announcement from Microsoft today. I’ve been
following some of their moves lately and have a gut feeling that
Microsoft is preparing some kind of ‘take over’ plan.

My opinion is that they are doing a silent revolution. Instead of
going head to head with Linux and Apple they are making small steps
towards releasing significant parts of their software assets for free.

Today, it’s totally possible to be a Windows Developer and work with
several technologies without paying a single cent on development tools
licensing. You take the 2003 and Vista betas, a Express Edition compiler, and you
are writting your next application, ready for the to-be-released
versions of Windows.

I mean, seriously. Here’s some signs:

  1. They released some major pieces of software as free downloads
    (Visual [you name it] Express, SQL Server Express). The Open Source
    community still has a ways to go to offer the same level of
    functionality as even a single one of those apps.
  2. They have adopted the word ‘beta’ in some service/product
    announcements. :)
  3. Recently, they released Microsoft Virtual PC and Virtual Server for
    free as well. This directly competes with the VMWare offerings.
  4. Both Vista and Windows Server 2003 R2 are available as downloads
    with a simple registration and timed expiration from their site.
  5. They have acquired SysInternals and WinInternals, adding Mark
    Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell to their operating system
    team. Those folks were known for providing low-level debugging
    tools for free.
  6. They are working with the community in some fronts. For example,
    the WiX project on SourceForge, receives lots of community feedback
    and even patches. It’s a quite high traffic mailing list.
  7. They have created a SourceForge-like website for hosting community
    projects centered around Microsoft products.
  8. Have you looked at MSDN? Now that’s documentation. Ok, it lacks in
    quality in a few places. But can you name a single Open Source
    project that provides similar documentation? What’s the sound of
    one hand clapping?

How big of a dent that can make in the Open Source community? How many
people, frustrated by the lack of a good and free IDE will move back
to developing on Windows?

My advice: keep an eye on Microsoft. One day we might wake up and
sheesh they made the Windows source code available. Will Linux be
able to survive that?


3 thoughts on “Times are changing (Or?)

  1. Wow, great news!

    MSDN is very nice, I agree with you. Using C++ with the Windows API would be a real pain without that.

    > Will Linux be able to survive that?

    Sure. Many users, admins and developers need (or simply like) a powerful Unix-like system. Linux, FreeBSD and OpenBSD as great OSes.

    If Microsoft make Windows source code available, they will lose users, but still will survive.

    Off-topic to this, but thanks for your help on zope-pt. I’m reading the Quills source-code to help and modify some things.


  2. Hmmm….

    I see a different picture from our boys from Redmond – Capitulation.

    Remember the ole saying, — “If you can’t beat’em, join’em?” Well that is what the MSers have figured out. Open Source had one thing going for it, no ROI to worry about. On that basis, buyout, sellout, or FUD were ineffective tools against the OS crowd.

    Nor do I think that offering Virtual PC was a response to VMWare. More likely, the VPC offer is a response to the Xen product set, more capability and free. Remember that VMWare is still a purchase product for commercial deploys. Nor does a ‘free’ eval copy of Vista make it Open Source like. It’s capable marketing, like a cocaine dealer. Get the customer hooked on the dope then charge them to keep using it.

    Then there are the market realities. Since about 2002/2003 if you go look at either Sourceforge or Savannah there has been a decided shift in the development effort. Whereas before this date a great deal of effort has been on the core linux/debian box and supporting server apps; after that date it has shifted towards the desktop. Not that server development is not ongoing but because the primary challenges at the server level are now in maintenance. So a lot of the ‘hot stuff’ is now at the client level and the total eyeballs are in that arena.

    Now for MS that might spell trouble. In the server market some variant of linux/debian/Unix has about 30% share in the datacenters. Were MS to lose that much share to the client side they would be in serious trouble. Nor will MS have a viable response from their usual bag of financial tricks to stem the tide as I referenced above. In fact I question the timing of Sir Gates departure from the day to day operations of the MS Empire at the current time. It very well maybe that he sees the handwriting on the wall. Realizes that MS as it currently does business cannot be sustained under the old model and sees little replacement that can maintain the economic stream in any new model. It won’t be the first time that a CEO has seen the road ahead and decided to ‘Allocate more time with Family and Friends’. Watching for his replacement to take the hit while he cashes in his stock options.

    Total it all up and it smells more like MS is trying to be more like Linux. That is capitulation. And for the market, the more like Linux that MS becomes the better off we will all be.

  3. Sidnei, I think this is all fake. It’s marketing to kill its competitors, and then be as monopolistic as possible. Cocaine dealer, John says above ?

    Transparency is the basis of good, and MS is not transparent. And a lot of its SW and standard-compliances just sucks. And you know it, right ?

    So have fun in M$ world, we do prefer our “balagan”, joyfull bazar of Open Source :) No offence, it’s maybe just a “what is your favorite color” type of question, more than good vs bad.

    Anyway, nice udate, I will keep an eye on M$, but maybe not for the same reason as yours :)

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