My OSBC keynote seems to have kicked off an interesting discussion on Slashdot. Overall the discussion is erudite and going in some interesting directions. It is pretty obvious that the simple fact that I work for Microsoft has colored the impression that many posters have who did not hear the speech. My speech covered a number of topics, but the one that has garnered the most attention is that of a simple fact. Commercialization of open source leads to less openness for customers. Service contracts, testing requirements, customer needs, etc. are all contributing to this fact. It is not nefarious – rather it is a necessary and inevitible result. I have discussed this in previous blog posts. (here, here, here, here, here, and here recently).
The thing that has been wholly missed in the Slashdot discussion is the fact that I also spoke at length about how important it is for the traditional software vendors to deeply understand the fact that openness can increase value. (flexibiliy, customabilty, feedback loops, transparency…). Ultimately, it is a question of finding the right middle ground.
Amending this post – here are two items in the news. Both present interesting angles for this same discussion on OSS and commercialization. Product competition is going to frame the OSS world more than any other factor moving forward.
From Martin LaMonica
From Steve Lohr