I was not going to respond to the Mundie screed against the GPL
community, because it was the wounded cries of a dying dinosaur,
and dinosaurs are irrelevant to the future. But too few understand
why the GPL has morally wounded Microsoft that I wanted to
elaborate on the point.
It is clear that Microsoft is going to lose against the GPL. It
is just a matter of when. And the timing really just depends on
when the power elites of the world catch on and support the new
paradigm. The phrase "new paradigm" is often inappropriately used,
but the GPL is a true Kuhn paradigm shift, completely changing the
way things are understood and done. Its success, therefore, is
inevitable. The adoption rate is the only remaining issue and that
depends on the get-a-clue factor of people in power. But even
Microsoft's reference to the 12 enlightened countries who are
turning to the GPL in a serious way suggest that the day of
critical mass is soon approaching. That is, of course, assuming
that Microsoft does not "save" them from themselves.
It is interesting to watch Microsoft and other traditional
proprietary software companies try to fight the new age, which it
so antithetical to them. As I wrote in the article, "Why Microsoft
is a Dinosaur," the Intellectual Age is inclusionary, not
exclusionary. While the GPL is inclusionary and therefore of the
new age, proprietary software is exclusionary and therefore of the
Industrial Age. These are diametrically opposite positions and
therefore cannot coexist.
What every proprietary company has tried to do, and Microsoft
with its "Shared Source" is only the latest, is try to mix the
paradigms and only go half way. They constantly try to take the
help of developers from around the world (inclusionary), but not
share the benefits back with them (exclusionary).
Where is the fundamental fairness in that? Why would developers
play along with that, if they have an alternative? Before the GPL
gained acceptability, there was no alternative, so developers had
no choice. But that's not the case anymore.
Really, software has always been inclusionary. Microsoft, in its
arrogance, just never acknowledged the millions of independent
developers from around the world that made its operating systems
successes. It was all those unrecognized developers that created
what the antitrust court called the applications barrier, which
gave Microsoft most of its financial value. (And in Microsoft's own
way of repaying its major benefactors, it usually put them out of
business whenever it needed a bump to the revenue line).
But the point here is that software has always depended
fundamentally on the work of the millions of developers from around
the world who created the endlessly interweaving programs that
support the world's computer infrastructure.
With the Internet, the importance of that interoperability has
reached a new high, so that seamless interweaving of programs is
now completely paramount. This fact now makes denying the
inclusionary nature of software a total folly. That does not mean
people won't try to deny it true nature. It just means they will no
longer succeed no matter how much money they have in the bank or
how many speakers they put at the podium to save the wicked from
their evil ways.
So, the next time Microsoft gives off a horrible roar,
understand that it is feeling real pain and have some sympathy for
the dinosaur. This is not the fearful creature of yore chasing down
hapless developers just for sport. It is a pathetic beast stuck in
the tar pits of history witnessing its last sunsets.
If you listen with the right frame of mind, you can almost hear
the music in that.
Tony Stanco is a former securities attorney from the
Securities and Exchange Commission, Internet and software group. He
left the Commission to found FreeDevelopers.net, because
proprietary software must be defeated before it puts all of us in
cyberchains. FreeDevelopers.net is an international, professional
organization of GPL software developers. All software developers
are invited to join FreeDevelopers.net.
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