Tag Archives: Open Source

Is Skype bucking the Open trend?

This open stuff is really taking off!

Google announced Android, their open source mobile phone platform, OpenID 2.0 has been launched and even AT&T are announcing that they are Opening their networks!

Against that backdrop I was surprised to hear today that Skype have decided to eviscerate their Skype Developer Program (SDP). The SDP is responsible for Skype’s APIs.

Paul Amery, the director, Lester Madden, Product manager, Romain Bertrand and others from marketing were all reportedly axed today. In one fell swoop Skype appears to have culled half of the developer program.

This would appear to be related to the Niklas’ departure. The new management obviously want to send out a message to developers that “We are not interested in Open dev”

Obviously Skype know something about the folly of building extensible platforms that eludes the rest of us!

UPDATE: – I see Andy Abramson has picked up on this story too.

Microsoft will Open Source Windows (or die!)

I have said on a number of occasions that Microsoft should Open Source their Windows Operating System (and their Internet Explorer).

However, it bears repeating.

I realise it is unlikely to happen in the near term but, I firmly believe it will happen in the not-too-distant future (when Microsoft realises that they can’t compete with Open Source).

If you take it simply from a numbers perspective, Microsoft has 70,000 employees. If we say 40,000 are actively programming code for Microsoft (the rest being admin, management, marketing, etc.) then you are looking at a maximum of 10,000 who would have contributed to the development of Vista, Microsoft’s current Windows incarnation. I suspect the number is lower.

Vista is estimated to have cost Microsoft $10 billion and six years to develop and they still shipped a fairly shoddy product.

Presumably Microsoft will want to re-coup that investment before it even thinks about Open Sourcing Windows.

Compare that with the various Linux distros. It is estimated that around 100,000 people have contributed to Linux’ development! I recently installed Ubuntu on my laptop and it simply blows Vista away in terms of performance and reliability.

Why are Ubuntu and the other Linux distros so good?
Lots of reasons but a few jump out:

  1. With open source development, you are getting the “Wisdom of Crowds” – the more people involved in the development, the better the end-result
  2. Open-source development is peer reviewed so bugs are caught earlier in the process and any which make it into a release are fixed quickly
  3. In open source projects the code is written by people who self-select for jobs they have an interest/skillset in
  4. Feel free to add more in the comments!

The upsides for Microsoft of open sourcing Windows are myriad, for example:

  1. If/when Microsoft open source Windows, their Windows piracy concerns will suddenly disappear
  2. Microsoft drastically improves its reputation as an anti-competitive bullying monopolist
  3. The next operating system they write would cost a fraction of the $10bn spent on Vista and would be much higher quality

The economics of Open Source are counter-intuitive. IBM spends around $100m a year on Linux development. If the entire Linux community puts in $1 billion worth of effort and even half of that is useful to IBM’s customers, then IBM gets $500m of development for $100m worth of expenditure.

If Microsoft could, in one fell swoop, get rid of their Windows piracy concerns, write better quality software, improve their corporate image, and radically reduce their development costs, do you think they would do it?

Are IBM, Google and Sun ganging up on Microsoft?

I see IBM are now jumping into the free Office software arena by launching IBM Lotus Symphony.

IBM Lotus Symphony is a free download from the IBM site (registration required).

Up until now, Microsoft’s competition in this space has come from OpenOffice and Google – neither of whom have a strong track record in the Enterprise Office space! The entry of IBM into this space is game changing.

As well as making Symphony free for download, IBM are also committing 35 developers to the OpenOffice development project. Again conferring the the IBM seal of approval on OpenOffice suddenly marks it up for serious consideration by larger companies.

Seen in light of these recent announcements, Microsoft’s recent move to capture the student market for Office begins to have an air of desperation about it!

Ubuntu first impressions

Using Wubi, I installed Ubuntu onto my Vaio laptop over the weekend (Ubuntu is a Linux distro – an open source operating system).

Apart from some nervousness on my part about losing any info from my Windows partition, the install was completely painless.

Ubuntu Screenshot

The interface is really slick – it is obvious that lots of time and thought went into the look and feel of this OS.

It is also incredibly fast (despite being installed into a single file in the Windows partition as opposed to a normal install). From a standing start to being able to open a web page Vista took four minutes thirty seconds on this machine. Ubuntu took one minute fifty seconds on the same machine.

I’m trying out Evolution now (email client) and I will start trying other apps as well to see how they compare. For now though, I am impressed.

Backup software for Vista?

I want to install a copy of Ubuntu on my laptop.

However, when Vista was installed on it, a single partition was made of the hard drive so if I try to install Ubuntu now, it will overwrite the Vista partition (I assume, anyone knowing better, feel free to jump in!).

I presume that what I need to do is backup my Vista install, partition the drive into one partition for Vista and one for Ubuntu, restore the Vista into its partition and install Ubuntu into its partition.

Can anyone recommend software to allow me to backup my Vista install (including all my installed apps and settings), so that I can restore it again later.

In case it is relevant, I don’t have a floppy drive for the laptop.

Update – since posting this I came across Wubi – an Ubuntu installer which installs Ubuntu into a Windows partition. This could be an easier solution. I’ll try that and see how I get on.

Marcio Galli's talk in Cork

Mozilla's Marcio Galli speaking at it@cork

Fair dues to Damien Mulley and it@cork for putting on a great Firefox event last night.

Marcio Galli is a Consulting Software Developer at Mozilla Foundation based in Brazil. He gave a fascinating talk entitled “Talk: Read, Write, and Recycle the Web with FireFox 3“.

Watch the it@cork blog for a detailed review of the talk later today.

UPDATE – Mark Crowley’s detailed review of the talk is now up on the it@cork blog.

Summer book recommendations II

Back at the end of June I posted about three books I had bought to read on my holidays. The three books were:

  1. David Weinberger’s Everything Is Miscellaneous
  2. Andrew Keen’s The Cult of the Amateur and
  3. Don Tapscott’s Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything

In my naivety I brought another couple of books along as well, just in case I managed to finish the three above! I’d obviously forgotten what it is like to be on a beach holiday with young kids. You have to be watching them the whole time, if not playing with them, and after the beach you are wrecked. Bottom line, I didn’t get nearly as much reading done as I had hoped.

In fact of the three books above, I only managed to read Wikinomics. I have started Everything is Miscellaneous (and it looks to be really good too) but having briefly skimmed Andrew Keen’s Cult of the Amateur, I decided it wasn’t worthwhile reading. On the upside, the Cult of the Amateur proved to be a fantastic book for killing mosquitoes – the weight of a hardback and the flexibility of a softback.

As for Wikinomics, I can’t recommend it highly enough. For me, it is the business book of 2007. It is a fascinating walk through incredible changes which are happening as a result of the new openness in the web today. Some examples from the book include:

  • MIT’s OpenCourseWare project, whereby anyone can access the university’s entire curriculum online, free
  • how Procter and Gamble CEO AG Lafley has stated that Proctor and Gamble aims to source 50% of its innovations externally by 2010 and
  • how IBM spends about $100m annually on Linux development but that it gets about $500m worth of development from that investment

If you haven’t read it, go out and get it now. Seriously. Do.

Could Microsoft tackle piracy through Open Source?

Tom’s on holidays, I’ll be your host for today. My name’s Frank P, you might remember me from such blogs as “BifSniff.com”,” FestivalShirts.net/blog” and “Aonach.com/chatter”.

Updated due to lateness of the hour when posting originally ;)

Well, despite being on holidays, Tom is not completely cut off from things technical – when I was talking to him today he had heard about the huge piracy bust in China today.

It seems Microsoft are chuffed with themselves for their part in the busting of two pirate software groups in China… the piracy groups were “in possession of illegal software with an “estimated retail value” of close to $500 million.”

“This case represents a milestone in the fight against software piracy—governments, law enforcement agencies and private companies working together with customers and software resellers to break up a massive international counterfeiting ring,” said Microsoft senior VP Brad Smith in a statement.

Lovely, says Tom, but if Microsoft really want to have done with people pirating their software Operating System they should just open source it.

Tom reckons battling piracy on a case by case basis like this is much like the little Dutch Boy sticking his finger in the dam – except in this case while the Dutch Boy celebrates, the dam is destined to burst in any case…

Open sourcing the software OS would indeed make pirating the software it redundant – if it’s freely available for a cost of zero, who’s going to go to the trouble of pirating it?

This is not the first time Tom has brought up the possible benefits to open sourcing for Microsoft.

Unfortunately, here’s where this post stops… this isn’t really my area of expertise, and Tom doesn’t have proper internet access going at the moment… this story really bugged him though, and while we were chatting about it, I said I’d get something up on his behalf – however I don’t know enough about the area to make a meaningful contribution.

I’m sure Tom will revisit on his return… but in the meantime, it’s over to you – what do you reckon? Should MS look at Open Sourcing their software OS? What would the benefits be? How would affect profits? How would any negative impact on profits be offset?

I look forward to being educated :)

Sun's answer to the Microsoft litigation threat

Microsoft’s announcement yesterday that they are going to charge open source companies and users for patent infringement is largely being seen as

  1. an act of desperation
  2. a scare tactic to get enterprise open source users to pony up more money to Microsoft (or buy Microsoft software) in lieu of litigation and
  3. a great way to, once again, succeed in annoying the majority of people on the planet

Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, has a great post on his blog today in response to the threat by Microsoft.

In his post Jonathan outlines how when beset by difficulties, Sun chose to open source their products instead of litigating!

He concludes his post by saying:

no amount of fear can stop the rise of free media, or free software (they are the same, after all). The community is vastly more innovative and powerful than a single company. And you will never turn back the clock on elementary school students and developing economies and aid agencies and fledgling universities – or the Fortune 500 – that have found value in the wisdom of the open source community. Open standards and open source software are literally changing the face of the planet – creating opportunity wherever the network can reach.

That’s not a genie any litigator I know can put back in a bottle.

Microsoft: "You are going to have to pay us for NOT using our products too!"

Microsoft have an image problem. You know they have. They know they have. Almost every time you see a Microsoft employee get up to speak they invariably start by meekly, almost apologetically, admitting they are from Microsoft.

Why do they have an image problem? It dates back to the browser wars of the 90s when they used their market dominance to squash competitors. They were bully’s.

Over the last number of years they have been fighting hard to combat that image. They have tried to appear all warm and fuzzy. They have made clever hires like Jon Udell and even contracted Hugh MacLeod to help improve their brand.

Then what does Microsoft go and do? In an article in Fortune

Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, which runs a big chunk of corporate America, violates 235 of its patents. It wants royalties from distributors and users.

Update: Wow, this one is really exploding on Techmeme
Good God, are they really serious? Many people use Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) precisely because they don’t want to be giving money to Microsoft and now Microsoft are saying “You know all that Free and open Source Software you are using, yeah well, you are going to have to pay us for using that now too, thanks!”

It really is quite an incredible situation. What if the oil industry started saying, “All you solar energy, wind energy and renewable energy users will have to pay us for not using our products”

Talk about damned if you do and damned if you don’t!

As Simon Hibbs said:

It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that so many Microsoft products are based on patentable innovations contributed freely. I’m thinking of Kerberos and LDAP that are the guts of Active Directory. Where would we all be if Tim Berners-Lee had patented key elements of HTTP, or if the TCP/IP stack were proprietary? Microsoft has done very well embracing and extending the innovations of others.