Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Even Microsoft realises that Open Source sometimes makes business sense

When the Open Source movement started in the 1980s, most of the people involved were mostly concerned with utopian ideals about what was morally right and wrong. Many of the developers of open source software worked in publicly funded institutions and had no interest in making any money out of their work. At this time open source an commercial software were seen as opposites and nobody believed that it was possible to make money from working with open source software.

However, in the 1990s and early 2000s it became clear that it was indeed possible to build a business that was based upon open source software. A number of different models became popular:

  1. Many web companies (e.g. Google) made huge profits by using open source software to deliver services.
  2. Some companies (e.g. RedHat) made money by providing support for open source software
  3. Other companies (e.g. IBM and Sun) used a mixed model whereby some software was made available for free under an open source license (e.g. eclipse and Java), but other software was sold under a traditional license

Almost all software companies seemed to come to the conclusion that open source played some significant part in their business model. The one exception to this rule was Microsoft, with both Bill Gate and Steve Balmers frequently lecturing on the fact that they saw the open source model as being either unrealistic or even evil and bad for business.

I was very surprised to read an announcement from Microsoft yesterday that they are releasing 20,000 lines of code to the Linux community under a GPL license. It now seems that all major software companies are in agreement that open source sometimes makes sense.

No comments:

Post a Comment