2008-05-17

Fight Microsoft with their own weapon

So, Microsoft puts out its hand and offers help with porting open-source software, to make it run best on the Windows platform. How mean. Understandable from marketing and business point of view, but mean anyway (and hey, that's my opinion!).

I have a proposal then, a simple one. Since Windows users are already used to trial versions, time-limited, feature-limited, shareware and other pieces of software which they constantly have to "unlock" by using codes found on the net (or keygens), so let it be!

Let's give Windows users what they already know:

1. Limited editions of Free and Open-Source Software for Windows.
2. Full-featured versions, including source code, for all other Operating Systems.


So if someone from Microsoft (or other third-party company) wants to keep working on a port for Windows, let it be. Let them even capitalize on the effort! This way THEY will have to keep up with the upstream. Or if they create substantial improvements, they will HAVE TO release their modified source code (that's the beauty of the GPL license!)

Your offer was insincere, so you won't get what you asked for.
Have it your way, Microsoft!

8 comments:

zcat said...

I've got a better suggestion.

Make open-source software as good as possible on Windows, even better than all equivalent non-free products. Make it run as well on Windows as it does on Linux, if Windows will allow this.

Get people used to using and relying on Free software, to the point that the only non-free software they still use is Windows, and of course the required virus checkers and spyware removers and registry cleaning tools and ... things required to keep Windows running.

Wait for them to wake up one morning and realise that there's absolutely no reason why they should keep using Windows, that they could be doing everything they do now more easily, faster, safer and cheaper on a Linux or BSD system.

jack said...

Posted this link in www.surfurls.com.

Tom said...

Right. Anyone could simply remove the restrictions from the source, recompile and redistribute. Within a day a non-restricted version would be available.

Campbell Barton said...

Anyhow, you may be interested to know Blender on windows already IS moderately crippled.

* No threading of cloth simulation (no OpenMP)
* No 64bit version (2gig memory space IS a limitation with 3D graphics)
* OpenGL on vista is sub-standard apparently (though I don't use vista)

Xerox said...

Genral Public windows users already gets most of their software for free .. is called cracked or pirated software (and is the way M$FT could get to be where it is now 8saying they fighting but really allow it) so unfortunately they don't wake up one day and realize that there are cheaper better software out there called open source.. because they don't see the difference .. they just doesn't pay the bucks .. is all they care about.

zcat said...

In a sense all programs on Windows are inherently 'moderately crippled' because they're running on a bloated, insecure operating system.

There's no point trying to use $0 as a selling point; For all practical purposes windows is also $0, either it came with the machine, or the boss paid for it, or it was downloaded from a p2p network.

The real cost of Windows is timewasting and annoyance. Look around any windows-based small office and you'll invariably find "the list" of things that need to be done every week just to keep Windows going. Update the AV and scan for viruses, run spybot, defrag the drive. Apply Windows updates. Little rituals that suck up the last working hour of every Friday. And then there's the 'just plain weirdness' when you find that Outlook refuses to open and the only solution is to reinstall Office.

Plenty of people don't like Windows. Most of them don't even know there's an alternative. If you start by switching them over to Free software on Windows the jump to Linux with the same applications is a lot easier.

Jose said...

I posted a bunch of comments that may be useful to those devs with Windows experience as well as to others. http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2008052000426OPMS I post there as Jose_X.

I basically DISagree with zcat's conclusion 100% when we are talking about the average Windows user. For starters, people can have their cake and eat it. Many can figure out Linux enough (with help) to keep it around. In fact, if the only way to get functionality is from Linux, people will add it to their diet. Only if they have a reason to use it will they use it. The freedom stuff doesn't appeal nearly like the "I need X to get Y done or Z is just so cool". Learning new things can be enjoyable, especially when introduced properly. Linux+FOSS has a lot more room for learning and creating growth than does Windows.

But don't expect people to dump Windows. That is not part of the short-term plan. It isn't necessary. It's actually self-defeating to expect it to be the case. We aren't asking people to trade in or have less. We are simply offering more. The more new things we offer with Linux the easier it will be to want to use it and eventually forget about and dump Windows. But dumping Windows will not be a major goal for many users as they may always have their favorite app be a closed Windows only app. Keep it. Keep your old XP, for example, so you can use it forever (unless you swallow a Monopolysoft update that ends up breaking that app :-/ ).

And because Linux can coexist near Windows, It isn't necessary to rely on Windows to bring FOSS apps to Windows users because you can have both Windows and Linux at the same time. [Who wouldn't want both?] FOSS on Windows diminishes Linux. Linux can be made very similar to Windows in interface for users to be able to use it as necessary if it is there accessible. It's FOSS for goodness sake. Redo the menus and artwork if that is what you really want (and make a custom distro while at it.. and show it off online).

Devs porting are wasting a golden opportunity to really make their FOSS offering stand out through one or more custom Linux LiveCD/DVD/usbpen distros. Create the perfect computing environment (for your app or for your target audience/hobby/etc) in a tiny portable package.

Make money servicing Linux in any of the multitude of ways that really don't exist for Windows. For business purposes, legal requirements are very important.. Windows is not $0 and redistributable for profit by any means. It certainly isn't customizable or "hackable" by any means when compared to Linux.

As for Windows devs and others that really do have a major mental commitment to Windows, there are steps you can take to really help eliminate the Monopoly and improve your situation/marketability or just impress friends. [See Linux Today thread for more discussion.]

In short, it's not that difficult to learn a new interface if approached properly. You aren't being forced to abandon what you know, just grow a little bit in a direction that is limitless with possibilities. What is key is that Linux be nearby. The all or nothing attitude is wrong and a major stumbling block. Rather seed some Linux. If it has the goods you can't find elsewhere (and only in that case) will most people bother with it.

I want us all to get on the same wavelength to reach faster tomorrow's future of computing where the user is king. But even with people wasting time porting, Linux is too good an opportunity and others are taking advantage of it and building businesses on it behind your back. Those devs not porting but instead improving and integrating with Linux (using advanced features and cleaning out bugs aggressively) will win tomorrow when Linux is commonplace. Their apps will be superior.

Jose said...

[zcat] >> Plenty of people don't like Windows. Most of them don't even know there's an alternative. If you start by switching them over to Free software on Windows the jump to Linux with the same applications is a lot easier.

I don't disagree with all that much that you said. I just disagree with the conclusion (and of course some details along the way).

Maybe I would change the statement above to this:

Plenty of people don't like Windows. Most of them don't even know there's an alternative. If you start by switching them over to Free software on **LINUX** the jump to Linux with the same applications is a lot easier.

That sounds a lot better to me. :-)

Actually, I believe that the LiveCD can be used as a vehicle for anything. You'd get all the benefits of Linux (transparency, customizability, stability, fast growth, $0 legally, etc) and can use that environment to feature the few tools needed by employees (or which you are trying to sell them.. I am talking about a work environment).

Make that distro a learning environment (full with docs and videos -- if you want to get fancy, have them spring up in contexted situations). Allow the employees to take it home to practice. Allow them to customize it (make it "their" distro). They can be taught, eg, how to remaster the LiveCD so that their settings and changes always pop up in whatever PC they plug the disk/pendrive/etc. Make some scripts or GUI (eg, a web doc on disk hosted by a local apache) to facilitate the remastering or anything else.

People will love this. The few that figure out how to do this (or hire outside help) can lead the way for others. There are so many opportunities here that the users in the company will thank you for the opening of eyes to new opportunities.

Money staying in your pocket, excitement, and empowerment has got to be worth something right?

Anyway, whether people port or not, Linux will win the war, but why drag our feets?