juridical Question on software and GPL

edA-qa mort-ora-y eda-qa at disemia.com
Mon Mar 29 07:56:29 UTC 2004

Niall Douglas wrote:
> No, Microsoft offer something you can't get elsewhere legally - 
> that's the difference - and businesses are very wary of crossing the 
> law at that level. I agree that as a Linux solution can now fufill 
> 90% of business requirements this is no longer true in the general 

The only thing you can get from Microsoft that you can't get elsewhere 
is "Microsoft Windows".  But this is just a brand name your buying, and 
perhaps piece of mind that this brand name has worked before, so it'll 
probably keep doing so.

But the users of computers don't typically look to buy "MS Windows", 
they are looking to buy a functional OS that does email, internet, word 
processing, and whatnot.  This is what you can get from many other 
vendors (not just Linux, Apple has a mature offering as well).

Microsoft has a preimum and complete offering, that when you purchase 
you have numerous guarantees of everything working together.  Your 
buying an assurance to that (putting defects/problems aside).  But if 
you don't need all the features, and another vendor could meet your 
requirements, then microsoft is truly offering nothing more than you can 
get elsewhere.

> I think that people would in this situation choose the Windows clone 
> over moving to Linux. There's something comfortable about familiarity 
> and people will pay to keep it. That's what economists call "lock 
> in".

"lock in" is of course MS's biggest strenght, and also their greatest 
weakness.  As you mentioned with your example of having an alternative 
Win2K implementation, as soon as that "lock in" is lost, companies would 
have an easier time migrating (they'd feel more comfortable).

As soon as MS has to deal with a world where lock-in is not the norm, 
then their strategy has to change a lot, hopefully to the betterment of 
the their customers.  Perhaps Linux may not mature to the level of ms 
windows, but at the very least it'll drive betterment to windows itself.

> I was more referring to the impetus for investing capital. How much 
> do you think IBM really wants to invest in free software? You can see 
> a noticeable difference between say how the Eclipse IDE is funded and 
> how IBM's Linux division is funded - in the latter, few new features 
> are funded.

Large copmanies only have an impetus to get larger and generate more
money.  I think too often we forget about the small players in the 
market -- it is after all, small to medium size business that employee 
most people in the economy (excluding government).

Free software offers a great foundation for new small companies.  In 
that past, many great ideas were lost since the foundation would cost 
too much to create, this only accessible to larger companies with a 
great capital.

But now it is feasible to create a new firm and drive an idea forward 
based on free software.  for many business is it will be more cost 
effective to ivnest in extending linux that pay licensing fees to other 
firms.  This is especially true of companies that only use software, and 
are not actually software vendors themselves (maybe complete solution 
providers including hardware, software and consulting).

It will be, and is,  the smaller firms investing large amounts of 
capital in free software.

edA-qa mort-ora-y
Idea Architect

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