"In muted tones, Microsoft?s chairman (Bill Gates) warned governments and companies that open source software is not the way to go if they are in the business of creating jobs and intellectual property. "
Below are Tony Bailetti, Ph.D. comments on the article about Mr. Gates' speech in Asia.
- Bill Gates is correct when he says that open source does not create jobs. He was, I am sure, referring to open source jobs in Puget Sound, Washington State, USA. This is the place where the bulk of Microsoft's employees work. Surely Bill Gates knows that open source is creating thousands of jobs all over the world. Today, IBM and many of the largest companies in the world employ thousands of people to work on open source projects and fund hundreds of external open source projects that employ many more thousands of people. IBM and other companies have made millions, if not billions, from open source. In addition, many non-profit organizations such as governments, associations, universities, etc. all over the world pay people to develop open source software, install it, maintain it, support it, extend it, fix it, etc. Hundreds of small companies and individuals generate income thanks to open source. Worldwide people are creating wealth thanks to a business model enabled by open source. I agree that relatively few of these open source jobs have been created in Microsoft's Puget Sound, Washington State, USA. This is quite unfortunate for Puget Sound.
- Bill Gates is correct when he says that open source does not create IP. He is obviously referring to the IP that people pirate (i.e., copy a Microsoft CD without paying for the CD). There is no incentive to pirate open source software. You can get it for free (or near free). The success of open source is not based on the protection of proprietary technology, however, Microsoft?s success is. Microsoft makes billions selling proprietary software. Open source does create a different type of IP. This threatens Microsoft's business model. Open source shifts the IP from product to service (or a complementary product). In other words, the value does not reside in the software product; the value resides in the service (or in a proprietary product that complements the software. E.g., a book that carries inside a CD with open source software in an attempt to sell more books at a higher price). The open source model has emerged as a viable alternative to traditional proprietary software. Today, open source, not Sun, Oracle, IBM or any other company, is the most serious competitor to Microsoft.
- Bill Gates is correct when he says that open source products do not guarantee upward compatibility. However, Microsoft's products do not make this guarantee either.
- Bill Gates is correct when he points out that Windows has contributed to the Asian economy. However, so has open source! There is an important difference between Microsoft?s contribution to Asians and open source software?s contribution to Asians. The contribution to the Asian economy that open source has made will never make Asians dependent on the software from an American supplier headquartered in Washington State, USA.
- Bill Gates is correct when he says that open source is developed at night and not during the day. You see, when its night time in Puget Sound, its day time in many other places in this world where people are busy developing high quality open source software.