"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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