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Linux.com: Stormy Weather Ahead for Proprietary Software

Feb 27, 2000, 16:51 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Mike Corns)

"A recent email on the Linux corporate site suggested that the absence of references to Linux by Microsoft in recent Windows 2000 presentations might indicate that Bill Gates is considering leaving the lower-end to Linux. Maybe that is the case but I doubt it. Leaving market share on the table hasn't been the MS style or, in fairness, any dominant corporation's style. Instead the real reason for minimizing Linux and Open Source is that they present a storm of fundamental challenges for traditional software vendors. A storm that sweeps in a new focus on qualitative superiority and sweeps out the old model of closed proprietary technology."

"To date, vendor's margins have largely been produced by revenue generated selling packaged products and expanding their market share while simultaneously minimizing development, service, general overhead and distribution costs over that same period. Pretty much a traditional manufacturing strategy. This approach often produces a decline, or at least fluctuations, in product quality and cohesiveness. Most vendors you ask will insist that this is not the case and they'll show all sorts of numbers indicating the size of their R&D investment. If you could get full disclosure of how the R&D dollars are accounted for you would find that proportional investment in the maintenance and development of specific EXISTING products typically declines, or fluctuates independently of customer needs, even when "R&D" dollar expenditures are growing over all. Linux challenges this model by modifying the software manufacturing emphasis from its current focus on marketing, sales and proprietary uniqueness to quality superiority...."

"If I'm a vendor, particularly one with an increasingly tenuous hold on proprietary, building block technologies, I would be working very hard to minimize the importance of Linux and Open Source. Or I'd jump in with both feet. Whether everything stays "free" is unimportant and I suspect unlikely, however, it's all going to become MUCH less expensive, quality focused, evolutionary and standards driven if Open Source continues to be successful...."

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