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Why Windows Must (and Will) Go Open Source

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the lacks-the-ring-of-inevitability dept.

Microsoft 555

Attila Dimedici writes "Charles Babcock of Information Week published an interesting article suggesting that Microsoft will have to at least to some degree take Windows open source if they want to stay in business. He suggests that the money to be made from the things MS builds on top of Windows (Office, Server, SQL Server, Exchange, Sharepoint, etc.) is so much greater than what can be made from Windows itself that MS will have to give up the revenue stream from Windows in order to maintain these other, more valuable, revenue streams."

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Nonsense (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730899)

Having to give the OS away for free in order to sell the apps only makes sense if you don't already have a stranglehold on the OS market. Sure, MS has gotten some bad press lately but they still enjoy the overwhelming share of the OS market, and that isn't likely to change anytime soon.

The fact that they are not making a lot of money selling Vista does not mean people are moving away from MS in droves...they're just sticking to an older MS product for now. MS is still entrenched as simply the way people expect computers to work, and it's going to take a much longer series of much larger screwups from Microsoft to change that.

Re:Nonsense (5, Insightful)

BorgAssimilator (1167391) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730983)

I tend to agree. Granted, they're going to have to change something or they'll _eventually_ fall behind. It'll take a while though... They may even need to reduce the cost of the OS at some point. However, that being said, I don't think they'll ever _need_ to open source any of it to stay in business.

Disclaimer: I'm not a business expert and the above statement could just be coming out of my ass.

Re:Nonsense (5, Insightful)

againjj (1132651) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731395)

Exactly. I read the article as follows:
1) MS does not get nearly as much revenue from a copy of Windows as it does from a copy of Office. (This is per copy revenue, not total, and besides, even if it is smaller, it doesn't mean it is insignificant.)
2) People are turning away from Windows because they do not like to pay for Windows, at least on the business desktop or in the server room. (Come on. Price is not the only reason for choosing an OS. Not even cost is.)
3) Ergo, Windows will need to be free(gratis) in order to keep market share. (What? Why? There are other ways to get/keep market share than competing on price. Windows is a nice case study.)
4) Windows needs market share so that MS can sell apps. (Why? They can't make apps for other operating systems?)
5) The author can't see why MS will make Windows free(gratis) without also making it free(libre). (What? Where on earth did that come from?)
Conlusion: Windows is going to go open source!

The premises are shaky, the logic is faulty, assumptions abound, and even if it were all true, MS is not necessarily going to be logical!

Re:Nonsense (5, Insightful)

Mozk (844858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731027)

I'd like to point out that open source does not have to mean free.

Re:Nonsense (3, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731077)

That's debatable, but the article (or at least the summary, since no one reads the articles) claims that MS will have to "give up its revenue stream" in the OS (meaning giving it away for free) in order to protect the revenue stream from their other apps. This is a ridiculous assertion given the current climate in the software business in general, and in the OS market in particular.

Re:Nonsense (4, Interesting)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731279)

MS's revenue stream will increasingly become the annual license fee. The difference between NT5/2000 and XP was more in the nature of a major enhancement. "Stepping up" to Vista or eventually Win7 will likely be much the same for the average user. They may have completely rewritten the internals (or not), but the user will only want to see that all apps run smoothly and reliably and securely. They will not care about new features they do not perceive they need. Therefore, no new OS purchases.

On the other hand, users more or less understand that they need patches and bug fixes in the OS. MS bundles those with purchase at the moment. But they do sell extended support beyond the basic EOL. Expect that to increase so that the EOL horizon comes closer, and extended support becomes a series of 1 - 3 year support agreemnts.

MS will eventually become the IBM, DEC, Burroughs, etc. service and support dinosaur that it replaced, so many moons ago.

Re:Nonsense (2, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731255)

It is a pretty strong implication though, at least for people who don't care much for support. More specifically, care more about saving $$$ than getting support.) I strongly suspect most home users would fall into this category. If MS open sourced Windows but still charged for it, someone would buy it then release it for free. Then all those people who want to save money would go to the person distributing it for free, at least if they knew about it. (They might have to strip it of the Windows trademark, but I still don't think that would increase the value all that much.)

Re:Nonsense (4, Insightful)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731053)

They have clear market dominance now, but it's slipping.

We'll probably say "This is the year of the linux" desktop for along time, but when the time finally comes it won't be news anymore.

These kinds of things happen so gradually no one notices. Try and find any historical headlines about "the year of the lightbulb", "the year of the telephone", or the "year of the internet".

Re:Nonsense (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26731113)

Sometimes everyone in the know, knows ex: Eternal September [wikipedia.org]

Re:Nonsense (2, Informative)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731281)

While I applaud you knowledge of that infamous day, that was technically the day the internet began serious decline, not "the year of the internet".

Re:Nonsense (5, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731137)

They have clear market dominance now, but it's slipping.

[citation needed [wikipedia.org] ].

Wishing doesn't make it so. The shift, if any, is to MacOS, which took an open source OS and locked the fucker down. I want a family sized blunt of whatever the article author is smoking.

Re:Nonsense (4, Informative)

Retric (704075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731227)

"Windows market share as of Dec. 1 is 89.6 percent."

"Meanwhile, Mac OS X posted its largest gain in two years, with 8.9 percent market share at the end of November."

"On the browser side, Internet Explorer's market share dropped below 70 percent to 69.8 percent for the first time in more than a decade. IE slid 1.5 percentage points in November, totaling a 5.8 percent market share loss for 2008, according to Net Applications."

From: http://www.cio.com/article/467916/Microsoft_Market_Share_Slips_Pressure_s_On_for_Windows_and_IE_ [cio.com]

browser share declining very slowly (5, Interesting)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731403)

It's stunning that the MSIE share of the browser market fell by only 5.8 percent in 2008. This speaks to the power of the default browser setting, and the inertia in the user community. FireFox, Safari and Chrome together only managed to chip away 5.8%? If Microsoft put forth a less than entirely crappy effort, MSIE would probably stop losing ground at all.

Re:Nonsense (1)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731191)

It might be easier to bring up concepts whose popularity happened after the year of the internet (1992).

Re:Nonsense (4, Informative)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731277)

The year of the telephone is 1884.
You got the first long distance call, and you got the biggest change in momentum in uptake as AT&T was gobbled up by American Bell.

The year of the light bulb is 1918.
World War I ended. All those factories that had been set up were then used to deliver electricity to surrounding neighborhoods. It was the clear turning point in the availability of electricity for the masses.

The year of the internet is, sadly, 1993.

Instead of pure open source... (2, Interesting)

lejflo (1384329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731055)

What if Microsoft offered their OS at a much cheaper price and modeled their revenue after, say, console makers? While the consoles are still expensive, the corporations sell them at a loss and instead plan on gaining a profit from selling video games.

In Microsoft's case, they would sell their software products like units at a profit, and they could concentrate on producing new types of software in house (like Apple does). Plus, if they went this route, they wouldn't necessarily have to pursue something stupid like new their software subscription services strategy.

Re:Nonsense (3, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731087)

The fact that they are not making a lot of money selling Vista does not mean people are moving away from MS in droves...they're just sticking to an older MS product for now. MS is still entrenched as simply the way people expect computers to work, and it's going to take a much longer series of much larger screwups from Microsoft to change that.

Unfortunately MS is pushing people more to open source than anyone else. People have legacy systems and documents that need support while MS is pushing them to buy the latest and greatest. XP is still in such demand that they had to push back the date to stop selling it. Need to open an Office 97 document? Some of the best compatibility comes from OpenOffice not Office 2007.

And more... (2, Interesting)

hummassa (157160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731095)

It will be a sad day when MS release the source code for Windows 8.5 ;-)
Think of the *x hackers that will die of laughter after reading the code!!!

Re:Nonsense (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731127)

Most people don't "buy" Windows. They buy a PC and it just happens to be installed.

Until they're aware that they're paying for it then it makes no difference whether or not it's free.

If things get rough Microsoft can drop the price to $20 and nobody will care either way.

In short: Article fails.

Re:Nonsense (4, Insightful)

theolein (316044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731207)

...Sure, MS has gotten some bad press lately but they still enjoy the overwhelming share of the OS market, and that isn't likely to change anytime soon.


I think that Microsoft might face some significant challenges with the recession. The daily news reports of enormous amounts of people being laid off at very large companies, traditionally Microsoft's major source of income, indicate to me that almost all comanies expect to lose large amounts of money in the next few years before, and if, the economy starts to pick up again.

I think that the way these companies operate in such times is that IT dpartments will be under great pressure to economise as much as they possibly can. If that using Linux and Open Office means they can save 5% a year, after retraining and reequipping, I'm pretty sure they will do it.

What I'm almost sure practically no big company in their right mind would do right now, in these times, is upgrade to Windows Vista or Windows 7. Those OSes require greater hardware resources than WinXP does and more than Linux does. I am sure that companies will try to use the very cheapest lowest cost hardware they can find to run their businesses.

I am aware that many companies will not find it cheaper to migrate to Linux in these times, but sooner or later, as support for XP starts to die out, they will be forced to move one way or the other. I think very few will be willing to spend big on new expensive hardware and software in the next few years.

MS Linux (4, Insightful)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731233)

It would make more sense if they released their own version of Linux. They could EASILY sell support, books and rake in money for it. and if they sold their apps for Linux, again, they would have a huge market as their product would run on Macs as well with little re-engineering.

The damage they would do to the other Linux resellers would be enormous (in the short term) and if they could do a good enough job, they could become a huge longterm player and maybe even kill off the other players.

Double Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26731325)

What Microsoft doesn't realize is that fully embracing open source, would be the best thing that happened to them since 1995. Suddenly all those generic errors would have people debugging them and a group of outside developers may see things Microsoft's internal programmers miss, such as the annoyance caused by the original Vista security dialogs. It's not the underlying operating system that is entrenched, but the general layout and graphic user interface.

"The way people expect computers to work" is nearly all graphic user interface. People, in general, don't have expectations about how their TCP/IP stack should behave.

losing grip (2, Interesting)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731413)

MS still have their hands around the market's throat, but they can't seem to get a good grip.

The "operating system" substrate has grown slippery. Virtual machines, API emulation layers, web, multi-platform development frameworks ... Applications find it increasingly easy to run in numerous places.

The "communications system" substrate has grown slippery, too. Web standards and office document standards are at a practically workable level. Boom, like that, IE has slipped from de facto standard to mere competitor.

You don't need MS anymore. The stranglehold falters.

The OS and protocol lock-ins have been unhealthy for us all, needlessly fragmenting the space in which apps can run. I'll be glad to see it go. I give it 8 years before it's effectively neutralized. Then companies will compete more with the merit of their works than with their influence.

Not likely (3, Insightful)

burning-toast (925667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730905)

Just look at Gates' earlier comments about how open source ruins development models.

Something tells me that ship might sink rather than adapt (assuming the opinion piece on the direction of the market is correct in the first place).

- Toast

Re:Not likely (4, Insightful)

theredshoes (1308621) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731035)

Windows 7 is coming out and people will be migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7.

Windows Market Share Climbing [computerworld.com]

Re:Not likely (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26731105)

Aaaand pigs will be flying...

Re:Not likely (4, Informative)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731151)

Windows Market Share Climbing

Windows 7 market share is climbing. From your linked article:

Although the beta of Windows 7 quickly grabbed one-tenth of 1% of the operating system market share last month, Microsoft Corp.'s operating system continued its downward trend...

You can't have a period of substantial increase for alternative OSs without that being indicative of something critical: true choice. If the alternatives are indeed practically viable, then the OS market has reached a tipping point. Expect all hell to break loose.

Re:Not likely (1)

Jezza (39441) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731169)

This is pure conjecture. I'm not saying it won't happen, but I can't see it as certain either.

Did we really think Vista was going to have the reception it has had?

I seriously doubt the Windows source code is in any state to do this anyway.

A few years ago... (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731261)

Windows 7 is coming out and people will be migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7.

:%s/7/Vista/g and you get what everybody was saying not too long ago.

There is too much money in Windows (5, Informative)

wicka (985217) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730909)

Maybe this guy has different stats, but last I heard, Microsoft made something like 1/3 of their revenue from Windows and 1/3 from Office. It's not like they don't make any money from Windows.

Re:There is too much money in Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26731031)

2007 - windows xp/vista not even included here, neither is office.

Windows Server US$4.5 billion 13%
Xbox US$4.1 billion 22%
SQL Server US$2.7 billion 28%
Advertising US$1.8 billion 27%
Exchange Server US$1.5 billion 27%
Dynamics US$1.0 billion 27%
SharePoint US$800 million 67%

Re:There is too much money in Windows (1)

weighn (578357) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731047)

...last I heard, Microsoft made something like 1/3 of their revenue from Windows...

bizarre if true - they pay HOW MUCH for an OS?
Office Jerks (.au) currently lists Vista Business for $417 full / $360 upgrade

I reckon there is some merit in TFA. We're in a cost-cutting part of the economic cycle. Even pointy-haired bosses can see that paying for an OS just doesn't make sense.

Re:There is too much money in Windows (2, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731185)

They don't pay for the OS, noob: it comes free with the computer.

Look, you brought up PHBs. Let's not pretend that they're smarterer than they are.

Re:There is too much money in Windows (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731143)

if MSFT didn't have office and Windows, the rest of their products wouldn't be able to keep ballmer afloat let alone MSFT.

Re:There is too much money in Windows (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731319)

The same could be said of other companies:

1) If Google didn't sell ads, the rest of their products wouldn't be able to keep GOOG afloat.

2) If Intel didn't have microprocessors, the rest of their products wouldn't be able to keep INTC afloat.

3) If Exxon didn't have oil, the rest of their products wouldn't be able to keep XOM afloat.

Ha hahaaa ha haha. (5, Funny)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730913)

Gosh, I laughed so hard at that.
Oh goodness, that is so funny. Microsoft going open source with Windows.
Man, it hurts to laugh now.

And nobody will care... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26730915)

The world is moving away from x86 arch and towards various other CPUs. Slowly, I know, but surely. Aside from that, I wouldn't use Windows even if it was open source.

Re:And nobody will care... (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731011)

The world is moving away from x86 arch

Like Apple did?

Re:And nobody will care... (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731065)

I'm pretty sure they sell more ARM chips than Intel chips these days, and probably with much higher margins.

Re:And nobody will care... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26731069)

Most of the NMT (network media tanks) are running on MIPS or ARM right now. Looks like some of the netbooks will be. Can't wait till we see the power-savings and weight-savings.

There's a pile of different CPU ARCHes out there. How many does Windows run on? How many does Linux run on?

Clunky desktops and 5lb laptops aren't the only form-factor.

Re:And nobody will care... (5, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731049)

What planet are you from? PPC is dead. Sparc is dieing. Embedded is owned by ARM almost as completely as x86 rules the desktop. Intel attempted to kill x86 with IA-64, only to see it fail miserably to AMDs x86-64. Hell, x86 is even making inroads in embedded systems. A few very high end specialty devices like game consoles are doing other architectures, but that's about it. If anything the x86 stranglehold is stronger than ever.

Re:And nobody will care... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731147)

If/when Windows is no longer bound to x86(-64), x86 will hopefully be dead within a decade.

Re:And nobody will care... (4, Insightful)

gsnedders (928327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731225)

Windows NT 4.0 ran on x86, Alpha, MIPS and PowerPC. Nowadays, there are only (really) x86, x86_64, and IA-64 versions now (I say really because there is a PPC version of sorts -- the 360's OS, which is forked from that of the original Xbox (x86) which itself was forked from Windows 2000).

Windows has in the past not been bound to x86 for desktop use, it just never really caught on.

Re:And nobody will care... (3, Insightful)

headbulb (534102) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731153)

The game consoles are all doing PPC in some form. The xbox360 ps3 and wii.

Then there is all the network gear that uses arm and ppc

ppc is far from dead.

Re:And nobody will care... (-1, Troll)

adolf (21054) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731327)

I can't run Firefox on a PPC chip on a modern desktop computer.

Therefore, it's dead. There's no reason to include embedded and specialty markets when discussing the death of a platform. I mean, really: The Zilog Z80 has been dead for about as long as the TRS-80 has been. That I personally installed about 40 embedded Z80s a few months ago, as part of some new radio communications gear, does not affect its status as dead.

Re:And nobody will care... (5, Informative)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731283)

Sparc is dieing.

Hmmm, I thought they made chips on wafers, not dies.

Of course, it doesn't matter since Sparc is dying.

The day Windows goes open source... (1)

magsol (1406749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730921)

...is the day Steve Ballmer stops sweating profusely.

Re:The day Windows goes open source... (3, Funny)

Aazzkkimm (465445) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731125)

I was going to point out that Steve Ballmer has to die eventually, but then I realized that he'll still be sweating when he's in Hell...

Sure (2, Funny)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730929)

and first step towards FOSS crowd, almost finished after 10 years in MS research labs, is FUCKING GRUB SUPPORT.

Re:Sure (5, Funny)

sisina (849900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731015)

I can see where this would be difficult to implement. Beetle larvae are too young for sexual reproduction.

Not a chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26730939)

Not a chance, no way no how... and they will just give it to OEM's who will discount PC prices? LOL

I doubt (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730949)

You know why? Because if this is indeed the case, Microsoft would have released the code for systems like DOS, Windows 3.1, 3.11 for Work Groups, 95, 98 or 98 SE.

Re:I doubt (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731079)

Microsoft would have released the code for systems like DOS, Windows 3.1, 3.11 for Work Groups, 95, 98 or 98 SE.

Yes, because companies never change their minds. Just because they haven't is not a set-in-stone guarantee that they never will (Not that I think it will ever happen)

Re:I doubt (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731365)

I have a theory that most closed source remains closed source simply because the authors would die of embarrassment if anybody else saw what a steaming pile of crap they had written. Microsoft's "ship it when it is 'good enough' and let the customer complete the beta testing" philosophy probably doesn't allow for cleaning up old code bases to make them presentable.

There already is Open Source Windows (1, Interesting)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730951)


Well, at least it isn't VISTA

Why Windows Must ot (and Will Not) Go Open Source (1, Troll)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730967)

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
Hard to believe linux desktop gets anyone at Microsoft shaking in their booties with its < 1% market share. MacOS just broke above 10%. That's a target to neutralise, not linux.

Re:Why Windows Must ot (and Will Not) Go Open Sour (1)

Facetious (710885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731349)

Meh. That depends on your source. If you are referring to Net Applications data, disregard it. It is more likely 5% Mac, 2% Linux.

What's more, support costs are a bitch (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730991)

leave aside support activity being a bitch in itself. the shittiest thing in i.t. is probably support ?

with this fashion, ms would cut support costs, and make better profit selling more expensive office items and serves and stuff to an enlarging userbase.

BUT ....

all of us here know that microsoft wont do that even if hell freezes over, so there's no point in arguing. that's bad for them. and good for us. with 'us', i mean the free world.

Re:What's more, support costs are a bitch (2, Insightful)

fat_mike (71855) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731287)

I honestly believe that a lot of you haven't used Windows recently. I have XP running on 50 computers with 20 of those being laptop scattered all over the US. I can't remember the last time I had to fix a problem that directly involved Windows XP. 99.9% of my issues are due to drivers and third-party software that we use.

Its real easy, you make one install, tweaked and setup how the company needs it. You test it and then use that to build all the rest of the machines. If you encounter a problem on one it is very easy to fix on the rest.

Sure, I love Linux. I have three servers in my basement with over 600 hours of HD tv stored on them plus all my DVD, CD's and old VHS tapes. I have MythTV machines that are tweaked to where you'd have to be an inch away to hear any sound coming from them hooked up to all my TV's. Its great, took four fucking years to get right but it works now and I'm happy.

I don't have time to do that at work. I'm one person supporting 50 people. I don't have time to retrain them on Open Source software and we sure as hell aren't going to pay someone to do it. We hired a kid fresh out of college two years ago. It was our first hire in five years and the youngest hire we've ever had. It took her 1/10th of the time to get up to speed on our software (not Windows, the programs we use) than anyone else.

You know why? The interfaces were familiar and she knew where to look for things because that's what she had been using her whole computer life.

Its not as simple as Year of the Linux Desktop. So many of you have no idea how the business world works.

Not convinced (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730995)

Sure, not supporting Linux, *BSD, and dirivatives will cut into their profits if the Year of Linux on the Desktop ever comes, but they don't need to open source Windows. They can delay that Year by releasing Windows as freeware or make a Linux port.

Re:Not convinced (1)

ScaryMonkey (886119) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731243)

They can delay that Year by releasing Windows as freeware or make a Linux port.

What do you mean? Windows already is freeware! It came for free on my new computer! [/total cluelessness]

Windows Go Open Source (0)

omar.sahal (687649) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731003)

I don't no about that. The market may be more a factor in Linux success. ARM (or MIPS) chips, China, Linux and flash [pcmag.com] means we don't need intel any more. People and business can't keep saying no so easily, and with the netbooks there is a proven market.

Incomplete Summary (3, Insightful)

meatmanek (1062562) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731029)

Honestly, can't the summary tell us at least "Why Windows Must (and Will) Go Open Source?" The summary doesn't explain why, it simply counters one reason why not.

Re:Incomplete Summary (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731229)

I think the point they were trying to get across is that if the crowds ever break past the vendor lock-in, they will not buy any of MS's products other than maybe Office on Mac because MS simply does not interoperate nicely with third-party programs. If they support Linux, then everybody leaving Windows can still be sold an Exchange server or Sharepoint.

hahahaa (0)

Bizzeh (851225) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731043)

windows. going open source....? hahahaha

whoever thought that this would happen is truly, indescribably stupid.

Windows will die one day... (1, Insightful)

rlseaman (1420667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731081)

...the real question is whether what comes after Windows will be open source.

Microsoft is likely to outlive Windows, one way or another. Future computers will not resemble current computers indefinitely, including the operating systems. Thus, Microsoft will have to attempt to lead or follow a post-Windows trend - and likely a post-Linux trend.

Obviously new OSes springing forth from Linux will remain open source. (At least, one can hope.) Will Microsoft, on the other hand, attempt to stay with a closed development model in a post-Windows world?

Any question or assertion about Windows itself is beyond boring.

Re:Windows will die one day... (2, Informative)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731289)

Obviously new OSes springing forth from Linux will remain open source. (At least, one can hope.)

Barring the entirety of copyright law being thrown out the window (or an SCO-like hijacking), OSs based on Linux must be open source. It is BSD kernels that risk being taken and closed-sourced

Not to mention DRM (1)

hoytak (1148181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731083)

which could easily be removed in an open source windows. Don't think Microsoft could get around that one, even if it wanted to...

Problem with Windows (4, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731109)

The problem with Windows is its backup software is Veritas. Its disk defragmenter is ... I forget who, I think it may be Disk Keeper. Most of the internal tools are licensed from companies that Microsoft doesn't own; you can buy a much better Veritas backup system or a full Disk Keeper license and get network control and everything. They can't open source this, and they can't give it away for free because they have to pay it back somehow; free Windows would be "Windows LE" or "Limited Edition" ... limited in ability to do anything but run programs you'll have to buy.

This is gonna be good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26731111)

I can only imagine the hilarity when we finally get our hands on the Windows source and try to make some sense out of it ;).

Open Source? Really? (2, Insightful)

KGBear (71109) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731129)

I believe the author means 'free', not open source. There are lots of reasons why MS wouldn't do either, but even if you buy the argument, all MS would need to do would be drop the price to $0. That doesn't mean GPL'ing the code! Gosh!

Not so much, but... (5, Interesting)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731133)

While I really don't see MS taking Windows open source anytime soon (read: hell freezes over), I have sometimes thought what would happen if they did.

Linux would probably be sunk for one, as hobbyists and big business alike dig in to Windows source code. Apple would be annihilated too- theres no way they could compete with free, not if they had a 90% market share to beat. Thoughts of MS ever losing their monopoly would be right out.

The world would be stuck with Microsoft domination forever. Not a happy thought.

Good job Ballmer's on our side.

TFA: Cliff's Notes and critique (2, Insightful)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731177)


To neutralize the advantages of Linux and other open source competitors, Microsoft will have to make Windows more like them. If it doesn't, it risks losing the 6-million-plus developer base that's made the Windows platform great.

Uhmm... why would the developer base run away? I don't get it. Because everyone else has? Then what starts them?

Also, why would Microsoft open-sourcing things be good for Microsoft? Either people shift to Linux because they drink the RMS kool aid (that'd include me), or because it's the better product for them (I then found out this also included me).

If they shift because they drink the RMS kool aid, then we can assume that they prefer a completely free OS (including application stack), which MS won't give out (according to the article, at least).

If they shift because Linux is the better product (technically, that is), Windows being open source(d) won't change the fact that Linux is the better product.

In other words, Windows may be what established Microsoft, but Windows can't sustain the company.

Why not? Where are the figures to back this up? I think you'd need to make an assumption about the relative number of OEM XP licenses vs. OEM Office licenses sold with new computers to just get something linking the claim back to the article.

The proprietary file formats that have protected Microsoft apps have been offset by Office Open XML

Here's the spec: if the document says jump, you jump as high as this other unspecified program. I have heard (but beware of echo chamber effects) that it's nigh impossible to write two implementations of the OOXML spec that renders identical outputs. So if people are going to look at $COMPETITOR Office and say "but my documents look all wrong, let me go back to Microsoft", how was the consumer really not locked in?

Blargh. I'm just going to judge this book by its first page. You can find some statistics in the article if you need them, but they seem loosely connected, and the article fails to specify why its predictions are likely to come true.

Article: -1, Overrated.

"open source," but not open?? (5, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731179)

title of article: Why Windows Must Go Open Source

Fourth sentence of article: "[...]Windows will never become an open source project in the same vein as Linux[...]"

Sixth sentence of article: "[...]I'll concede that some Windows source code probably will never see the light of day."

I think what he really wants to say is that the cost of Windows has to approach zero. That's completely different from being open source. It's the classic "free as in speech" (or as in freedom) versus "free as in beer."

I think it should be fairly obvious that MS can't open-source the whole OS. For one thing, I doubt that they own the copyright of every single line of code in Windows, and they've surely had to license a gazillion patents, make deals involving trade secrets, etc. Look at the situation with Linux and GPL 2 versus GPL 3 -- even if Linus changed his mind and wanted to make it GPL 3, it can't happen, because you won't get thousands of programmers to agree. With Windows it's bound to be even more complex.

Okay, so let's imagine that the price of Windows becomes zero dollars. So what? Then the US would be like China, just another country where everybody runs Windows and nobody pays for it. You'd still have banks telling you their web interface only works with IE. You'd still have people with hard disks full of documents that are in proprietary formats, preventing them from switching to Linux. Things like video encoders and color management would still be patent encumbered. The main effect would probably be to boost MS's market share, and that would probably allow them not just to sell more copies of Office, etc., but to abuse their monopoly more effectively for competitive advantage. That's essentially what the author of the article is talking about by the time he gets to pages 2 and 3.

And is anyone under the illusion that every version of Windows would cost zero dollars? No way. They'd very carefully set up a tiered system of price-differentiated versions of Windows in order to maximize their profits. Then it's like drug dealing: the first hit is free. This is what they're already doing in the third world, turning a blind eye to pirated versions of Windows because it helps to make those countries dependent on MS. The article says preinstalled Win XP is about $34 worth of the price of a new computer, and $34 is close enough to zero that I'd say that we're essentially already in that regime.

Why it will never happen (1)

JumpDrive (1437895) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731193)

To many of these revenue streams are dependent on the lockin which the OS supplies. If the code is open-sourced for the OS, then it will become much easier to make competing products.

Unlikely. (1)

Knifa (1048830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731213)

Hell will freeze over before this happens. Are there any benefits for Microsoft that would make them do this at all?

it's not the developers it's the users (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731265)

I don't think developers have such a big problem with Windows not being open source as users have a problem with it being a crappy OS.

People migrate to Mac OS even though it's not open source (well, not all of it) and even though it costs more. People who migrate to Linux or BSD because they want an open source OS are not that numerous and I doubt Microsoft is fearful because people who cared about open software issue already left the boat a while ago.

I agree about the money (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731307)

but not the open source. They could sell 1 complete version for 50 bucks and accomplish the same goal.

The one exception being if they go to a BSD core with their GUI on it...like Apple.

Why should Microsoft care? (5, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731313)

Microsoft, in the middle of one of the worst depressions since The Great (Old) One, is still reporting a profit. Not a loss, not even a small loss. It wasn't even a significantly lower profit than the ones they usually post. When companies like Intel were posting that their profit margins had slumped 90%, Microsoft's losses went from 4.5 billion to 4.1 billion.

Yes, Microsoft's bosses own a lot of Microsoft's shares, but the share prices will return to what they were and they get to buy back more now at discount rates. So they not only were richer than God to start off with, they'll be richer than most of the major pantheons combined once the market picks up.

So what possible incentive does Microsoft have to go Open Source? They have almost total control over 95-98% of the world's desktops. They have almost total control over virtually every OEM and every hardware manufacturer. People could boycott their entire product range for a decade and Microsoft would still be wealthier than every other OS vendor combined.

But people CAN'T boycott Microsoft. Virtually all manufacturers add in the cost of Windows into their systems. Even bare-bones systems likely carry some of that cost. I don't know how much Microsoft charges for permitting something to be classed as "certified", but no commercial company is going to permit the use of trademarks or promotional labels for free, which means all components will carry a Windows overhead as well.

So if you add up all these overheads that Microsoft gets for Windows, regardless of whether or not you actually buy the damn OS, my suspicion would be that you've paid the development costs long before you've paid the sticker price for the software. In which case, buying the OS is sheer profit for them. They can get along just fine if nobody actually buys a separate boxed copy ever again.

Sure, you can say that that means they have no motive to not switch to Open Source, but given their distaste for the methodology, I'd argue that it gives them even less motive to do so.

If the world's biggest software company can afford to underwrite fines larger than the GDP of some small countries, to the point where they're willing to keep infringing in total defiance of any rulings against them, and can swan through a severe global depression with a workforce cutback less than a third of either IBM or Panasonic (who have alternative revenue streams and no outstanding multi-billion-dollar fines), it's clear they are feeling next to no pressure to change their methods.

In fact, before this recession is over, it would not surprise me if Microsoft kills off the antivirus vendors (through questionable tactics, already well underway) and has made a bid for the software arm of IBM or Sun. They probably have more in loose change in the break rooms than Sun has in the bank, right about now. They might easily buy up Novell as well, crippling any competition SuSE might offer in the aftermath.

If they take out any two of those three, who precisely is going to form the competition?

... or release Office on MacOS/Linux (1)

foxylad (950520) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731315)

The thrust of the argument is that MS loses revenue from it's cash cows (mainly Office) when people switch. MS could just release Office on MacOS and Linux to cover all bets - I'd guess that open=sourcing Windows would be a last-ditch event in Microsoft's corporate culture.

Here's how Micrsosoft will make Windows OSS (5, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731337)

They'll do it by redefining open source. After all, they can wrap a proprietary file format up in XML so that instead of being a bunch of undocumented blobs in a binary stew they're a bunch of undocumented blobs in an XML stew, and manage to convince people to say things like this...

The proprietary file formats that have protected Microsoft apps have been offset by Office Open XML, the default format for Office 2007 and now an international standard.

not going to happen. (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731353)

best you'll get out of MS is publication of the entries and expectations of all the APIs for writing to windows.

open source means everybody can tinker with the product from source code.

MS used to give some computer companies OEM rights with the ability to submit modules on MS-DOS, but never in windows.

if you think they got scoured with Vista no-ops in fancy packages that companies have depended on for 15 years, just imagine what the open source world would be like.

telling is that they have NOT open-sourced DOS. but then, vast parts of it are still core code in Windows.

MS is like the junkyard guy down the street... reuses everything, never throws anything out, and there's a nasty big rusting pile of it all over his house and yard.

If they go open source.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26731377)

..then they can't play highdef movies.

Alternate Universe: IBM Open Sourced OS/2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26731391)

One of the recurring debates among my crowd is: What would things be like today if IBM would have open-sourced OS/2 back in the early 90s? What say you?
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