"One of the obvious advantages of opening the source code is
that it reestablishes a situation that hasn't been seen since the
very early days of the computer revolution in the mid-70's to the
mid 80's. Most notably the incessant tinkering to improve a program
or to customize it to one's particular needs. That tweaking in
turn, restimulates a competitive dynamism; not only is there the
traditional external competition- i.e. Star Office against K
office, WP, Applix office etc; but also, internal comptetion- i.e.
Star Office's programmers will face competition from the Open
source programmers over a feature; so the former will take it as a
challenge to improve that feature better and more efficiently than
the latter. Even if the closed source programmers borrow from the
GPL pool in order to meet the open source challenge, the users
benefit as the external and internal competition from the various
office suites and/or their open source components means less buggy
software. Moreover, the incessant tinkering as well as the external
and internal competition results in a more effective threat to
Microsoft's dominance of the office suite market than any judicial
or governmental decree."
"Nicholas Peterley in a recent article concurs with a similar
assessment. He goes further and argues that the GPL'ed Star Office
6,0 effectively spells the end of the MS Office domination and
we'll see a conversion from Office to Star Office within 5 years or
so. While cogent, I found what he didn't say just as interesting:
the fallout of Sun's decision to open Star Office's source code on
WordPerfect's and Applix's abilities to compete against Star
Office. The reason is quite straightforward, it's hard to predict
what the executives at Corel and Applix will decide to counteract
"I'm not concluding that strategic, or even total,
open sourcing of WordPerfect's source code or Applix office's
is a panacea that will resolve each company's particular
problems or weaknesses or that the results will always be positive.
On the contrary, a lot can go wrong and probably will;
nevertheless, the possibility of failure or of things going
awry shouldn't deter Corel or Applix from seriously evaluating the
open source option."
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