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Article:
  Is This the Right Room for an Argument?
Subject:   Thanks for the feedback
Date:   2002-07-29 11:15:26
From:   jasonma
At OSCON this past week I was encouraged by the response to this piece. Quite a few people stopped me to talk about it, and overall the conversations were excellent.


Id like to address some of the points brought up in the comments to this article.


R&D:
The companies I mention have all reinvested significant portions of their revenues into ongoing software R&D. In 2000, there were approximately 150,000 software companies in the U.S. alone. If you were to aggregate the R&D investment and resulting technologies coming from commercial software companies over the past 15 years, you would find the bulk of software innovation has come from commercially funded sources.

In general, "groundbreaking" innovations are few and far between compared to the incremental innovations. That does not discount the quality or importance of the smaller pieces of work. All of the commercial vendors I mentioned have produced significant innovations in software, be they databases, kernel designs, graphics engines, protocols, directory services, applications, etc.


Learning from open source:
Not surprisingly, Craig and I have had similar comments regarding Microsoft learning from the open source community. In Craigs NYU and OSCON 01 speeches he said we are learning from open source and then listed several proposed efforts. At OSCON 02 I said that we are learning from open source and here are the programs that we have delivered over the past year. Promises kept.


Microsoft is now sharing the source code to Windows 2000, XP and .NET Server all versions, all service packs, all betas. This is the single largest (and, arguably, most valuable) quantity of source code ever shared by a commercial entity. As noted in the article, it is not open source, it is shared source. We are also sharing 45% of the Windows CE.NET OS and the Rotor implementation (C#/CLI) under a non-commercial derivative license (modification and redistribution allowed). More than 90,000 developers have pulled down the CE code and more than 35,000 have pulled the Rotor code.


We are looking now to expand the shared source programs into the application space and at the possibility of releasing code under a full commercial derivative license. Its going to be a busy year and we welcome your comments and feedback along the way.

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  • Thanks for the feedback
    2002-07-29 20:20:40  plaw [View]

    I take exception to your comment:

    "If you were to aggregate the R&D investment and resulting technologies coming from commercial software companies over the past 15 years, you would find the bulk of software innovation has come from commercially funded sources."


    First, and most obvious, to measure "software innovation" using some basis of "R&D investment", commercial software will always NECESSARILY come out ahead. The Open Source community works on their own free time, tirelessly.

    Second, I must question whether "innovation" can ever come from proprietary and closed sources. If no one else can benefit from the "source" of the innovation, there can be no true benefit to the community at large. There can be no cross fertilization, no criticism, no outside improvement. As far as Shared Source, it seems only possible to use it to assess the bugs in a system, as no one is permitted to make changes.

    I would also ask, based on what "argument" is the Windows source code the "most valuable"?