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InfoWorld: D-word Dissection

Jan 10, 2003, 01:00 (18 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Russell Pavlicek)

"As this week's issue of InfoWorld considers disruptive technologies, now is a good time to consider the disruptive nature of open-source software. The subject is due for attention, given the recent comments I've received suggesting that open source is a form of 'antibusiness communism.'

"In actuality, these criticisms reveal confusion between disruptive and destructive changes in the market. The argument for open source as a destructive change often reads like this: "As recently published records indicate, Microsoft makes all its money from the sale of operating systems (Windows) and office suites (MS Office). The creation of open-source operating systems (Linux, the BSDs) and office suites (OpenOffice.org, KOffice, Gnome Office) must therefore be an effort by hate-filled people bent on destroying the most successful software company on the planet (Microsoft) through un-American communistic means (giving software away for free).'

"Unfortunately, this view takes an unnecessarily narrow perspective, yielding a less-than-accurate conclusion. A broader view might read like this: 'The task of the software industry is to create the best business solutions. The advent of open source means that the cost of some of the components has dropped, while the control over them increases for the solutions integrator and the IT department. From a market perspective, the major difference is that the point of greatest profit shifts from the software provider to the service provider...'"

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