Open Source - Proprietary Lines Continue to Blur


Just shy of two years ago, I wrote about mixed source shops as a trend, but a trend that we knew would quickly become a permanent fixture in the software industry. As unpopular as it was at the time, the collaboration/patent agreement between Microsoft and Novell precipitated a lot of that talk.


CNET News blogger Matt Asay noted not long ago that there are problems with the open source revenue model, and just last week, the 451 Group released its own findings that open source is more of a business tactic for most companies than it is a business model.


Moreover, in an interview with InfoWorld, Microsoft exec Horatio Gutierrez admits that even Microsoft has come to terms with the fact that the lines between open source software shops and proprietary software shops are blurred, at best. Gutierrez said:

Every company that traditionally comes from an open source background has over time moved to the middle after realizing that in addition to the open source foundation, they also need proprietary offerings... At the same time, companies that you could have associated traditionally with a pure proprietary software development model, including Microsoft, you see them today cooperating with open source development projects, even shipping open source code as part of their breadth of their offerings. Over time this distinction, which was mostly an ideological and very emotional distinction, the reality of business is causing all companies to converge to the point where in a few years this distinction will be without meaning and we will all be mixed source companies.