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Business 2.0: Fighting Microsoft the Open-Source Way

Nov 09, 2002, 02:30 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Erick Schonfeld)

"While the appeals court ruling last week upholding Microsoft's settlement with the Justice Department was a molar or two away from being toothless, Microsoft faces a bigger potential check to its dominance today than it did at the height of the browser wars five years ago. This comes not from an ever-vigilant judiciary but (more fittingly) from an ever-adapting market. And it is taking the form of Linux and other types of open-source software being developed by swarms of volunteer programmers around the world.

"The term 'open-source' means software code that's available for all to see, use, or modify. Any programmer can make changes, but those changes are subject to the court of public opinion--the best ones stay, while the worst draw jeers. It's also no longer the sole domain of antiestablishment hackers. They gave open-source its start, but the Linux operating system, perhaps the best-known open-source program, now runs on about a quarter of all servers.

"Additionally, open-source code underlies the software products of some of Microsoft's fiercest competitors such as Apple Computer, IBM, RealNetworks, and Sun Microsystems..."

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