[linux-elitists] rambleling about windows source code

Martin Pool mbp@sourcefrog.net
Sat Feb 14 15:33:55 PST 2004


On 12 Feb 2004, Ben Woodard <woodard@redhat.com> wrote:

> It would not surprise me if after a substantial amount of time, the gulf
> between Microsoft's way of doing things and Linux's slowly diminishes.

I can imagine Microsoft eventually moving to something like the Fedora
process, where most of the source is available under a moderately free
licence, but Microsoft do the definitive distribution and some extra
frosting.  This would probably delight any remaining software and
hardware "partners" -- debugging is so much easier when you can see
the library/OS source.  Perhaps some bugs would be found and fixed
during, although they might have such a backlog that there would be a
glood of security updates when it first came out.

One big loss for them would be that many lower-margin software
distributors would just ship the free stuff.  But Windows is really
about two things: money, and control.  They might release some captive
income, but if Microsoft retain control over the project they might
still move technology in ways that suit other goals.

(I want to see the web page saying "anonymous VisualSourceSafe access
is available by..." :-)

On the up side, it would largely squelch the Windows antitrust
problems, and it might slow the bleeding of developers to Linux.  In
the big picture, those might be more important than getting $20 for
every PC shipped.

I don't think they could quite come at the GNU GPL.  I think the Sun
Java shmozzle has shown that for licensing, near enough to free is not
good enough.  So perhaps they will try this, but it will flop.  On top
of this, there are the technical issues of outside developers trying
to come to grips with 30GB (really?) of source.  Mozilla and
OpenOffice are nothing by comparison.

Now I think about it, Microsoft really ought to offer me an enormous
salary to do this.  

> Time will tell but I think that this is a watershed moment or at least a
> point of inflection. 

I think it is.

> I feel glad and I feel like I'm on the winning side.

It's just possible in the scenario above that open source will win and
Linux will lose.  It would be the slightly bitter victory of GNU or BSD.

-- 
Martin
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