Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hanselminutes #266 and Alt.Net Seattle’s "Open Source in Business"

I just finished listening to Hanselminutes Open Source vs. Making Money vs. Freaking Lasers - Are we all Evil? With Chris Sells and it reminded me of the Open Source in Business session that I attended at Alt.Net Seattle. This post is attempting to tie these two things together.

Open Source vs. Commercial Software

Should we share our non-core software? Scott and Chris suggest that open sourcing your software is a cost. If you open source a project to increase good will among the programmer community; it is a good thing but not necessarily profitable.

In Alt.Net Seattle’s Open Source in Business, a couple of participants claim that their companies benefited from "free" programming and used the contributor’s list to fill positions.

Scott and Chris talk about the Portland open source culture and how making money isn’t necessarily the biggest thing in Portland. Some of the open source that way to keep more of what they make.

Companies Being Evil

Apple and Google have done evil things in the last few years, but Microsoft is still evil. Scott and Chris suggested that Microsoft isn’t well organized enough to be evil. No company of any size is beloved by everyone.

Is evil associated with making money over customers? In any publicly traded company, stock holder value is king over everything else. Microsoft may feel more evil because they charge us directly. People may like them better if pricing was less complicated (the pricing discussion goes on from there, but I won’t go there in this post).

Since Google and Facebook make money from advertising and don't charge us anything, they feel less evil (Facebook privacy policy makes them feel more evil to me).

Originality of .NET Open Source

At Alt.NET we also discussed the relative lack of originality in the .NET ecosystem. Many of the major open source projects (NHibernate, NUnit, etc.) are copies of Java open source projects. Perhaps many .NET developers are shy about starting ambitious open source project fearing that Microsoft will somehow co-opt it. Perhaps Microsoft is too disorganized to get out of the way of some cool open source project.

This may be the way that Microsoft is evil. It also could be that the companies that use Microsoft software are more conservative and value safety over innovation. I've worked for a few companies that view open source as evil -- to these companies, Microsoft is a crusader fighting against the chaos.

No comments: