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.