Is Microsoft the future of open-source?

July 30, 2005

Bill Thompson has this article running on the BBC discussing a possible future for Microsoft in the open-source community. He proposes Microsoft creating a separate operating system that is based on freely distributed GNU/Linux code but is compatible with not only Linux but Windows and OS X applications as well. This could be done, according to him, in about a year if they devoted many of their resources to the development and improvement of the Linux code to a scope that would make the Microsoft version so advanced that other Linux distributions could not catch up and effectively make all other Linux versions obsolete by the time the code hit the market. He says that this could allow Microsoft to control the project and deliver updates and patches to its consumers for free in a much speedier amount of time because of all the resources and experience available at Microsoft compared to the classic open-source project. Meanwhile Microsoft slowly phases out its Windows division in favor of this new open-source OS. Microsoft would provide the OS for free but keep many of its other applications closed-source like its Office products. Before long those already running alternatives to Microsoft, like the classic-Linux, would be forced to switch to Microsoft’s version because they become outdated and incompatible with the new Microsoft controlled OS market.

“The net’s core architecture moves over too, with Micrix on the DNS root servers, and even Google migrates the Googleplex’s servers, simply because the support environment is better and patches are rolled out more efficiently and with fewer errors.” – Bill Thompson

The idea in theory seems like it could work and would make Microsoft the dominant player on nearly all computers and markets in the world effectively killing the competition again. If they distributed the OS in the right way I can see how they could effectively run a massive uber monopoly but avoid any and all legal actions because they wouldn’t control the OS since its freely open to the public to change in anyway they wanted to. Microsoft would control the world one PC at a time.

But we need to realize something, the chances of something like this happening are slim and the amount of changes that would need to be taken in the ideology of management are enormous. The thought that runs rampant through Microsoft that open-source is “evil” would have to be dropped and the transition from an closed-source to open-source development model for its largest division could either destroy the company or turn it around and be the company of choice, not necessity, once again. This change could set Microsoft back on a course that would reclaim their title as the “good guys” of technology that they lost so many years ago. They would still use the same “innovation” model that they have used for years that gave them he nickname of the “borg” because they would take GNU/Linux and assimilate its technology into their own product. I guess the future of technology at this point is a mystery, which development model will win? Will closed-source development reclaim its crown as the model of choice, will the open-source model take over becoming the defacto standard of the industry, or will some other model take flight possibly a hybrid of the two? Only time will tell.

Read the article.

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