Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not represented as fact|
The open source versus Windows debate seems to be heating up, with a number
of stories on this matter hitting the wires today.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
Here in NZ, IDG is carrying
which seems to suggest that Microsoft are trying to put pressure on some who
signed up to an open letter
lobbying government to consider open source software.
Another company is trying to bridge the divide between Windows and Linux
by launching a new Linux version which includes the Wine Windows emulator.
The emulator is another open source project which, although showing great
promise, is still not bullet-proof and has problems with a number of
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The company pushing the new alternative, Lindows.com
reckons it will have the problems sussed within a couple of years -- but as
we all know, a couple of years is a long time in the IT industry!
However, something that might give the open source movement a good boost is
the cost of becoming a .Net developer.
Whereas all the tools, support and documentation needed to develop software
for Linux, FreeBSD or other open source environments is (as one might
imagine) available absolutely free -- Microsoft look as if they're about
to repeat the same mistake that IBM made with OS/2.
Back in the early '90s, IBM rolled out its own version of the (until then)
rather lacklustre OS/2 operating system.
Unlike the version built by Microsoft, IBM's OS/2 was brilliant. It was
robust, feature-filled, easy to code for and ran on machines with relatively
modest hardware requirements. In short -- OS/2 should have been a real
I cut quite a bit of OS/2 code and it was a far more pleasurable experience than
struggling with the archaic design and irritating limitations of Windows 3.11.
What's more -- IBM spent an alleged US$50 million on marketing OS/2, using
what was (at the time) an unprecedented amount of TV advertising (remember the
So why did OS/2 bomb and Windows grab a virtual monopoly on the PC platform?
The answer is simple -- IBM tried to squeeze too much money out of developers.
To develop software for OS/2 you had to buy an SDK from the company at a
rather inflated price. To do the job efficiently you also really needed to use
their compiler and workframe products. Once again -- these were rather
expensive and, when upgrades were released, little credit was given for owners
of previous editions. In effect, IBM saw developers as a great source of
revenues and profit.
As a result -- most developers said "no thanks, I'll stick to Windows" where
the purchase of a product such as Borland's low-cost C/C++ compiler would
give them every tool they needed -- and provide a low-cost upgrade path as
those tools were improved.
Well now Microsoft are doing just what IBM did a decade ago. They're going
to screw "entry-level developers" for US$1,000 a year to get onboard the .Net
development bandwagon -- AND they're going to charge them $250 per application
they develop (more info from CNet).
Just a word in your ear Microsoft: Now is not a good time to try and screw
the most important business partners you have -- the developer community.
Many of them are already looking closely at the open source option and if you
try to empty their pockets before they can climb onto the .Net system then
you could turn .Net into another OS/2.
No developers, no software. No software, no .Net.
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