Why Open Source and Linux Are Losing Momentum

Rob Enderle

This time of year, I make my rounds with the OEMs and get to chat with a number of executives. Several things have floated to the top, but the one I'd like to chat about right now is the comment that Linux demand and interest in open source in general has dropped off sharply.


I think this is because a lot of FOSS folks saw open source and related initiatives as an end and not a means to an end. The result IT departments wanted and the result FOSS wanted were two different things.


Let's chat about what I think folks wanted, and why open source didn't meet that need, and conclude with why I think the FSF, in particular, is on the wrong track.


This isn't an "OSS is losing/Microsoft is winning" piece. This is more along the lines of "the technology market is sick," and OSS and the FSF have a lot to do with why.


The Beginnings of the Anti-Microsoft Movement


We can call what we often refer to as open source many things, but often the names don't seem to connect with the rhetoric. Interwoven through much of what we write about Linux and open source is the political agenda of being anti-Microsoft. It may not have started out that way, but it sure seems so today. Though, when people at places such as Slashdot (which are normally thought to be hangouts for Microsoft haters) are asked, their responses are very interesting.


Now, if we were to be honest, open source, by name, should advocate access to source code -- it shouldn't be anti-anything. Of course in politics, we aren't very honest with our naming; often organizations trying to fight a consumer initiative and funded by business have names sounding like they actually are consumer organizations. Consumers for Cable Choice, KeepUSF Fair Coalition, Alliance for Public Technology, and so on. At least here in the United States, we are used to creative naming intended to sound friendlier than what the organization is about. Of course calling the FSF "the organization to keep programmers from getting paid" likely wouldn't be as successful, but likely would be more truthful.


But FSF is about stopping Microsoft, and toward the end of the '90s, it had a lot of folks who agreed that Microsoft should be stopped. I was meeting with and surveying the IT shops a lot at the time, and even gave Steve Ballmer annual reports personally to point out that Microsoft was bleeding trust and that, at some point, the market was likely to respond painfully.


But, folks weren't complaining that Microsoft's code wasn't open. They were complaining that Microsoft wasn't being honest with them, was "taxing" them for products they weren't using, and didn't seem to care when they complained. I ran into a lot of CIOs whose marching orders were "find me someone other than Microsoft to do business with."


Eventually, even the hardware OEMs got tired of constantly feeling that no one in Redmond was listening. Open source and Linux became the concept and the product they rallied their efforts around, but the goal was to fix or replace Microsoft (and generally more replace than fix). This friction continues today, and there is substantial frustration among OEMs with regard to how Vista is selling. In addition, unlike last decade, Apple -- the one PC vendor that doesn't use Windows -- is enjoying the strongest margins, best stock market performance, and its CEO is the highest paid, all of which isn't lost on these guys. Note, however, Apple doesn't use Linux and is about as far from open source as you're going to get and still be on this planet.


Microsoft Competitors' Pyrrhic Victory


Competitors such as Sun inflamed this by actually referring to the Microsoft charges as a "tax." While they hurt Microsoft a great deal, often they didn't do themselves much good because most didn't have, and couldn't articulate, a better alternative. In some cases, they even got Microsoft to give them money in exchange for not calling the company names. But other than writing those checks, Microsoft, which was run largely by engineers (read: those who are really clueless when it comes to politics and marketing) was largely ineffective to counter either the real or imagined wrongs.


Increasingly, open source advocates would tell stories of past Microsoft wrongs that, though widely believed, had been generally disproved in the Justice Department action against Microsoft, an action that would have come out a lot better had Microsoft not been caught cheating in court several times.


But, prior to the big post-OSS ramp in the early 2000s, companies remained willing to pay for the technology they used, and seemed to realize they depended on similar rules for their own company's income. They didn't really want to go into the software business or take over even more responsibility for their own products, nor did they actually want to devalue the software industry and the people in it by stripping out the profits.


But this last outcome was often what they got, and what they wanted -- to have people be honest with them -- they often didn't get. Not from anybody.


FOSS Impact


So, at the beginning of the cycle, we had one big software company run by the richest man in the world who was also a software engineer who built his own company. Software engineers were paid very well in general, and Microsoft was generating more millionaires than any other company. The software market was very lucrative, as was the hardware market -- both of which enjoyed relatively strong margins. UNIX was in decline and that hurt sales for those vendors, but the related software skills were still valuable.


Nearly 10 years of "Kill Microsoft" later and the richest guy in the world is a Mexican businessman; the most powerful technology company, Google, gets its software for free and builds its own hardware; and it doesn't talk to IT, yet may at some point actually dictate what we use, if trends continue. Google doesn't share either. People believed, but often were wrong, that Microsoft stole technology from others; Google uses the GPL to do the same thing globally, legally, and is proud of it. And it should be -- it gamed OSS.


(As a side note: I often wonder if anyone actually has read the published history of Microsoft. For instance, how many know the Microsoft president was at IBM until the early '90s? Where do you think a lot of the company's practices originated?)


Today there are a lot of software companies just above break-even and largely living off low-margin services revenues. Kids don't seem to want to go into the software business. And much of the activity is to reduce costs and ship jobs out to India. The majority -- I'm guessing 70 percent now -- of the software technicians and engineers I was speaking to at the beginning of the cycle have left the market entirely as a result of layoffs connected to outsourcing or downsizing and now, surprise, we have a shortage.


FSF may have helped hurt Microsoft. However, from my view, it helped devastate the software and hardware landscape even more. Granted this wasn't its goal, but it does appear to be the outcome, and one it has nothing to counter. For instance, what has it done to increase software value, programmer salaries or software company profitability? GPL 3.0 goes the other direction. When Richard Stallman flipped off Bill Gates (in effigy) at Stanford a few months ago, you have to wonder was he really flipping off Bill or every person who made a good salary on software? The right answer is probably both.


(For a guy who thinks people should work for free to flip off a guy who is giving his wealth to solve world inequity is kind of ironic; the fact Microsoft likely contributed more to solve this problem than Bill can and that Bill's efforts likely will fail is even more ironic).

I think I could argue, as much as folks didn't like Microsoft, they didn't like being underpaid and unemployed more. This isn't to say Microsoft wasn't, and isn't, a problem; only that what FSF and related initiatives did was the equivalent of a doctor treating you for a severe headache by cutting off your legs to take your mind of the pain and get control of your wallet.


So Why Is It that Open Source and Linux Appear to Be in Decline?


Honestly, part of this likely is the realization that the OEMs really can't help much with open source. The Google model is the right one, and that suggests to do open source and Linux right, you need to internalize much of the effort and, in this case, the OEMs aren't much help. But I also think Microsoft has become less of a threat.

Microsoft doesn't appear invincible anymore. Bill Gates is off trying to save the world (you have to think that alone pisses Richard Stallman off a lot) and not running the company. Folks were able to say no to both Vista and renewing their Enterprise Agreements without a demon showing up to drag them off to hell. In effect, Microsoft is looking more and more like just another big troubled vendor, and it's kind of hard to get excited about "Killing Microsoft" anymore. Particularly given Microsoft seems to be doing more of late to interoperate and make things better than FSF is.

In short, the fire behind all this is running out, and given the financial conditions of the market, folks are focusing more on keeping the lights on which, I also think, goes a long way toward explaining why so many are signing deals with Microsoft right now. People just don't want to be broke or unemployed and they see these deals as a possible way to avoid what otherwise seemed unavoidable.

Re-Establishing Trust, Saving Linux, and Open Source

I do not understand dealing with a vendor you don't trust. As I see it, you either find a way to trust the vendor again or you get another vendor. Regardless of what some religions say, you weren't put on this earth to suffer through software, nor were you hired to go to war with one of your vendors.


I think "open source" needs to shift and become more about open source, and maybe protecting and increasing the incomes of the folks that support this effort. Free is supposed to be about "freedom," not working for free, which is great for those who made a bundle out of the dot-com years, but not as great for those of us without trust funds.


And for Richard Stallman and FSF, maybe flipping Bill Gates off less and actually working to change the laws surrounding software intellectual property rather than creating another license for a market that everyone recognizes has too many of the damned things would be a path more in line with true freedom and less in line with personal agendas. Linus Torvalds, who works for a living, appears to agree, calling FSF "hypocrites."


For all of us, I think it is well past time we started to go back and look at products and vendors on their merits and not treat them like rock stars or demons incarnate. It's time we went back to looking at the technology market like a business where the vendors make reasonable profit, are held to the promises they make, and trust is backed up by action on both sides.


And I think that is exactly what we are seeing happen.

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Jul 16, 2007 4:43 AM Pieter Van Nuffel Pieter Van Nuffel  says:
The link to informationweek about Linus calling the FSF is complete FUD, read the correct message here: http://www.fsdaily.com/Opposition/Misleading_InformationWeek_GPLv3_article/The comments he gave about being hypocritical is months old!! Reply
Jul 16, 2007 5:01 AM Paul Hands Paul Hands  says:
This piece of nonsensical wishful thinking comes from the pen of the abject twerp who gave a "keynote" at a SCOX fabrication fest entitled "OSS and the idiots who use it".Mr Enderle, you have the credibility of George Dubyah Bush at a MENSA meeting. Reply
Jul 16, 2007 6:04 AM martin jasny martin jasny  says:
If you read the Slashdot discussion on why people hate Microsoft you do not find too many people who actually hate them.There are many contributions from knowledgeable people who see behind the scenes: they can judge the quality of the products, they compare the products with the competition and they know enough about the dirty tricks of Microsoft in the past and present. Thus they have reasons to dislike MS and their products to a varying degree or just rationally use the better products without much ill feeling.On the other side there are just people who know nothing else and they live happily with MS and their products, because they are good enough. Everybody is used to having to push the restart button or at least restart the program if it crashes and everyone thinks it is normal to have antivirus software.They are the bulk. Then there are minorities: people who love and admire MS and those who hate them. I think it is normal to have such a spectrum of people of all kinds of opinion.In one point I think Rob Enderle might be partly right here: the conflict is increasing and the goals of the conflict parties are getting away from what the users really want: the GPL3 is a weapon and in some ways it restricts freedom. But I think it is a necessary reaction to what Microsoft has been doing. And Rob Enderle carefully avoids discussing this side of the conflict. I think it should be said here that the greatest preference in the Microsoft policy is keeping the monopoly, destroying competitors by any means and preventing illegal copying, at the cost of what users really need.If terrorists bomb innocent people, the consequences are that all of us loose our civil liberties. Phones get tapped, you can get arrested just on grounds of a slight suspicion etc. Reply
Jul 16, 2007 9:42 AM stolennomenclature stolennomenclature  says:
Dont agree with you at all that the FSF was all about stopping Microsoft. This gives the impression that once Microsoft was stopped, then the FSF will have accomplished their mission and they and there software would then have no purpose and be discarded. Of course this is total nonsense.The FSF was all about doing software the right way. Really the four freedoms as expressed in the FSF manifesto are not window dressing, but are genuine principles about which a software industry can revolve, and actually work and benefit consumers.If the FSF is about anything overall its about creating software for the consumer to use, whearas proprietry software is about selling shrinkwrapped boxes so that a tiny group of capitalists can live in obscene luxury and jerk themselves off. Reply
Jul 16, 2007 10:24 AM Paul Dorman Paul Dorman  says:
My response...1. create GreaseMonkey script to redirect any article written by Bob Enderle to any random web page.2. Modify GreaseMonkey script to filter out all advertising from companies featuring on Bob Enderle articles. Reply
Jul 16, 2007 10:58 AM Les Les  says:
I think your focus is pretty much on the english speaking world. Open source is growing out of control almost everywhere but in the U.S. and England.Just look at China with their own government sponsored version of Linux, Korea and Japan. Wait a minute, even in South America and even in Cuba Linux is being mandated by governments to save money and the distrust of Microsoft. Reply
Jul 17, 2007 1:21 AM Ram Ram  says:
Do your homework:1. Apple does use open source. You can use apache and other open source programs with the Apple OS by default.2. Microsoft did and does steal technologies from others. Why do you think they went to court so many times. Eventually they buy everybody off but they do steal it first. For example, the first Internet Exploerer was a copy of Mosaic Browser. Netscape sued and they settled.3. FSF did not help devastate the software industry it was the software industry that devastated itself with bloat and the dot.com trend of "we can put everything under the sun in a web page". Also, geography has nothing to do with being underpaid in the US. There are a lot of very smart programmers offshore that are faster, better and cheaper. It's up to each individual to beat that - not the fault of the FSF or open source. It's a world effort now. The Microsoft Windroids are not in control anymore and they cannot extort the public nor beat open source solutions that are fater, better and cheaper - tuff luck.4. Open Source and Linux do not appear to be in decline. They are growing at a faster pace than Microsoft. It is Microsoft that is in decline. In business you are either dear or alive, there's no inbetween; and Linux is certainly not dead now nor anytime in the future. Reply
Jul 17, 2007 1:34 AM Rob Enderle Rob Enderle  says:
Wow not that is creative:1: The fact you can run OSS on Apple or that Apple uses OSS does not make them Open. FSF has even targeted the iPhone for being extremely closed.2. Microsoft licensed their browser from Spyglass, no Netscape connection according to history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Internet_Explorer 3. Aggree .Com did a lot of damage and would add Microsoft's execution problems didn't help either, on the other hand FSF is contributing to the problem by making it more difficult to be in the software business (TiVo) while still letting the very rich (Google, IBM) get a free ride. 4. That's your view, but if it weren't true how would you know if you simply discount anthing that disagrees with that view? If I think it is night, and it is mid-day but refuse to go outside to check, am I right or just stupid? Reply
Jul 17, 2007 2:01 AM haq haq  says:
Wow, That really made me think about it twice,As a software developer, for opensource, I see my self going nowhere, i.e. its true, how can you develop software for free??? I agree with Freedom, but not free, come on guys, think about it!!!In the other hand, as a user, MS are thieves, or shall we say, not my type, due to their license and restriction, and linux is for free, and freedom.I think, I'll go for webDev, or Embedded! as it always far from politics, well, at least wont be anytime soon.And guess what, still lost, I dont know who's right, who's wrong. Its not a simple conclusion. Reply
Jul 17, 2007 5:12 AM HC HC  says:
This post is so twisted and just plain a "bunch of lies and half-truths" that I don't even know where to begin. So, instead of pontificating, I will just say that me, personally, I love Linux. I use it everyday. I boot to windows...can't think of the last time I did at home.Philosophically, I don't like the fact that Microsoft treat their clients as thieves. I don't like that I have to agree to the EULA and I have no say in the matter, no choice that is. The EULA is full of terms which basically suppress free speech. I hate the fact that Windows is bug ridden and just a lousy experience. Of course, its not bad enough to drive me bonkers, but given a choice, I would rather not use it.What I don't get is how come so many mis-informed, and technologically challenged people hold positions and make decisions which affect technology everyday. Case in point, you Rob. Maybe you should think about retiring and leave the IT to the people who know it. Reply
Jul 17, 2007 5:15 AM G Fernandes G Fernandes  says:
[QUOTE]But FSF is about stopping Microsoft,[/QUOTE]No, that is not true. The FSF is about software-user rights. Read about it on http://www.gnu.org/gnu/manifesto.html. The FSF is about protecting the four freedoms defined in that manifest.The FSF is positioned against Microsoft in as much as the Microsoft EULA is the complete opposite of the FSF copyleft ideals.And, if you've been following events, you'd have noticed that Microsoft is running scared of Free/Libre Software. Notice Microsoft's efforts to subvert ODF with their ridiculous OOXML. Notice Microsoft's efforts to subvert GPL protected code with their patent-agreements with Novel, Linspire and Xandros.So I wouldn't sum the current situation as you have at all. I'd say Free/Libre Software is gaining - not losing - momentum.As consumer awareness increases, Free/Libre Software and the freedoms it stands for, is only going to gain even more momentum.You're arguing that consumers are going to remain content with high-cost, unmaintainable systems running to vendor-dictated upgrade cycles. Current trends do not support that hypotheses at all.Truly open standards and software built upon such standards is the only way forwards.And I see Free/Libre software driving such open standards. Not Microsoft.This is one of the strongest reasons why Free/Libre software is gaining momentum. Reply
Jul 17, 2007 6:34 AM Sam Sam  says:
I don't read anything with an obvious troll headline like this. Just thought you ought to know. Reply
Jul 17, 2007 7:19 AM Justin Justin  says:
Isaac Kuo, your comment #23 really hit home with me. In addition.. I believe that splitting up Microsoft into separate OS and application companies was the right thing to do years ago and would've brought back innovation and competition within a capitalistic framework. It's sad how many things G.W. inadvertently screws up isn't it. It's what happens when you elect a well meaning but intellectually uninquisitive guy. Reply
Jul 17, 2007 9:19 AM ERM ERM  says:
To me this article seems like a bunch of whining about why programmers can't be millionaires anymore - boohoo! A while back hardware manufacturers were thinking the same thing. The death of software as a money making scheme is due to commoditizing of the software industry. It's nothing special to make an OS if a bunch of people can do it in their free time. If you want to succeed you need to be quantifiably better than the rest. Look at Photoshop. Gimp exists, but no graphic designers use it because Photoshop is THAT MUCH better. But how much better is the Windows Vista GUI experience than Gnome, KDE, XFCE, etc? So why use Vista? Reply
Jul 17, 2007 9:21 AM azzivar azzivar  says:
Ok, how about this... there is no reason why programmers can't get paid for producing/improving OSS. Software companies can exist to either create or improve OSS projects, and if those projects are oriented toward the commercial needs of enterprises of varying sizes, the consuming companies can opt for either paying servicing companies to customize or focus the OSS code to close the gaps for a particular client, or the company itself can decide that it wants to invest in the OSS by having it's paid programmers work on the project. It seems to me that the bottom line is that OSS provides more options and choices for everyone. Reply
Jul 17, 2007 10:50 AM Isaac Kuo Isaac Kuo  says:
It's a fundamental mistake to equate the Free Software movement with the anti-Microsoft movement. Rather, the anti-Microsoft movement came to grudgingly sort of accept Open Source out of necessity.You're right that the real question in the anti-Microsoft movement was, find me someone other than Microsoft to do business with.But you fail to identify the plain and obvious reason why the answer was Linux/open source rather than just some other proprietary company--the fact that Microsoft excelled at crippling/killing off competitors. The only reason GPL emerged as the Microsoft alternative is because Microsoft culled away the rest of the field.If the Free Software movement is anti-Microsoft, it's only because Microsoft is so intent on killing it off. It's only natural to be against someone who's trying to destroy you!However, the nature of GPL software has made it difficult for Microsoft to kill it off. With traditional competitors, Microsoft can simply buy/bury/bankrupt them. Once they neutralize the "head", the rest of the problem goes away. But with GPL software, neutralizing the "head" is at best a temporary solution. Any two bit venture capitalist who smells an opportunity can go in and continue where the former competitor left off, building on top of the openly available source code. Reply
Jul 18, 2007 3:21 AM gcacic gcacic  says:
In his novel "The Honourable Schoolboy" John Le Caree introduced a respective, though with a very small role, character named Craw - self proclaimed president of "Hong Kong ... something club". After a long night conversation with George Smiley, the best played ever,according to unwritten history of Circus, newspaper article was born into the local (fiction) newspaper the very next day.The writer of the novel - Caree himself - though never introduced the readers to the text of the article itself.I wonder would it be better for the author of this article to never introduce us to the strory as such.FUD chages (tries to change) its own faces but sad true for the FUDers is - too litle too late Reply
Jul 18, 2007 6:06 AM Andrei Andrei  says:
I often read articles like that and normally feel I am missing something. Open Source is not uniform, and for me it is a layered phenomenon, and it is hard forme to guess which authors statement is relevant to which layer. I see the layers like this:- Commercial Open Source- - System integrators. No big problems reported, right?- - Open Source resellers and distributors. Reuse some MS tricks (thus release junk), but no great success so far.-- Inhouse developpers. Look quite happy.- Colloboration Open Source - - Companies (Sun, IBM, Google)- - IndividualsWith this perspective, for example, the organization to keep programmers from getting paid is meaningless. My best uneducated guess is that it is about guys who erroneusely entered the last layer.So, I find the reasoning being interesting, but do not understand who "folks" and the like actually are. Reply
Jul 19, 2007 7:51 AM fiksve fiksve  says:
Hahaha, this is the most meaningless fud Ive ever read. What did you smoke when you wrote this, and can I have some? All real analyst (garter,idc,etc) is saying the complete opposite, and then the one-man-fud-machine (With obvious commersial gains) comes with this crap.as I said: hahaha..not even the summer daze can make this shit true. Get a life, and try something other than ms products -- You might even like it. Reply
Jul 19, 2007 12:57 PM Peter Rock Peter Rock  says:
"But FSF is about stopping Microsoft"If that were actually true, I'd let my associate membership expire. We are not interested in stopping Microsoft or any other organization. If Microsoft shareholders are financially hurt by the free software movement, it is true that I am not concerned. There are side effects to any movement grounded upon freedom. But do not conflate the side effects with the goal. Reply
Jul 25, 2007 1:55 AM Michael Michael  says:
I've been noticing that the fire behind many Open Source projects has been dying down especially since the GPL 3. That's not to say open source is in decline, yet. While because of its very nature I do not expect Open Source to go Away, I'm starting to believe that the FSF has done alot more to weaken it lately than Microsoft could.The data says there is a shortage of skilled programmers AND a lot of companies are looking for those programmers that have experience with open source programs, but this article tells just why this situation developed in the first place and at the current rate it will happen again.Companies need to make money and most open source companies have enough trouble just "keeping the lights on." For many the goal is to make it big enough that they are bought out by someone like Microsoft or Google. If they can't do that then they see a slow death in front of them. The GPL3 only seems to make things more difficult for them. I'm curious to see what will happen when a big company gets into legal trouble for not fully understanding the new GPL3. Reply
Jul 25, 2007 9:44 AM Wolfear Wolfear  says:
I have to seriously disagree with parts of this."the comment that Linux demand and interest in open source in general has dropped off sharply"If memory serves me correctly, did I not, within the past few weeks, read here on ITBusinessEdge that Linux (or was it OSS in general?) had gained what, 17% (or was it 7%)?Take also into consideration the move by Dell to offer an open source operating system (Ubuntu) as an alternative to Windows. Doesn't sound like a lack of interest from this end."Apple doesnt use Linux and is about as far from open source as youre going to get"Wrong. OS X was built upon open source components.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_OS_X#History"organization to keep programmers from getting paid"Developers are free to charge, within certain guidelines, when releasing under various versions of the GPL. "the focus was placed on Free not as Freedom but Free as in Free Beer Quoted from the GPL:"When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for this service if you wish)". Reply
Jul 25, 2007 10:06 AM Rob Enderle Rob Enderle  says:
If you read the piece it focused on interest, I concluded that the data likely supported the conclusion that buyers were focusing on other aspects of these products and, for Open Source, not using the vendors as much. Apple is propriatary, the fact they use some OSS code does not make Apple the company Open Source. That's the good or bad thing about the BSD approach depending on what side you are on.I think I argued that while the written focus is as you say, practice has been otherwise. Reply
Sep 4, 2007 1:15 AM VelocityWebDev VelocityWebDev  says:
Good overview, and I don't know your background - but I am guessing you are not a design or implementation expert. I would also assume that you aren't in R&D.Here's the reality - corporate visionaries will help set the stage for a particular widget to move forward within an IT infrastructure. After the initial introduction is completed and proven, companies will implement policy and procedure to deal going forward.My experience is contrary to yours. If I can provide my client (mostly SMB's) solutions that are seamless and integrated to their environment; satisfaction is met. So, they rely on me to provide the solution, they may not demand, but they don't care.Large companies (5000+ employees) that I work with have changed from the late-80's and early-90's vision of IT. There are few risk takers because technology scares them. So, the attitude goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Few IT professionals coming out of school today have much incentive to be proactive and push new technology - and I believe Open Source solutions are included in that sandbox.If software companies are truly barely making ends meet - maybe they should spend more time talking to the end users and IT that are required to implement their solutions. I can't tell you how many times I have run across a change in a software implementation that has impacted a businesses technology and changed they way things work! Quicken is a great example - changing their methodology of how data is served to individual desktops. No more file sharing! If that client could have dumped Quick Books, they would have done it...so who is actually prisoner of who?Bottom line, you make a few good statements, but are backed up by little real world examples. So, although I can appreciate your view of things - I can't see the point. Reply
Apr 23, 2008 1:32 AM Peter F Kiragu Peter F Kiragu  says:
I have been using Microsoft ever since..... But now I have to move from XP to Vista is search a short spun really ticks me off. I am out to try UBUNTU and then I can comment more on this topic but I would be more worried for Microsoft. I am a campus student and a large portion of my classmates have downloaded OpenOffice and using it and Mozilla is the preferred web browser. Either Microsoft steps up or its going to lose. Am from Kenya(Africa just in case studying in UK) and more people are recognizing the importance of IT and more importantly its cost implications especially in Africa where majority of companies and institution cannot keep up with the costs of some of Microsoft products.However I would rather have Quality than free, if software developers are not get what they deserve how am I going to get quality? My arguments may be wrong please feel free to comment. Reply

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