Read on and enjoy
Digging in against open source commoditization won’t work – it would be like digging in against the Internet, which Microsoft tried for a while before getting wise. Any move towards cutting off alternatives by limiting interoperability or integration options would be fraught with danger, since it would enrage customers, accelerate the divergence of the open source platform, and have other undesirable results. Despite this, Microsoft is at risk of following this path, due to the corporate delusion that goes by many names: “better together,” “unified platform,” and “integrated software.” There is false hope in Redmond that these outmoded approaches to software integration will attract and keep international markets, governments, academics, and most importantly, innovators, safely within the Microsoft sphere of influence. But they won’t.
Exciting new networked applications are being written. Time is not standing still. Microsoft must survive and prosper by learning from the open source software movement and by borrowing from and improving its techniques. Open source software is as large and powerful a wave as the Internet was, and is rapidly accreting into a legitimate alternative to Windows. It can and should be harnessed. To avoid dire consequences, Microsoft should favor an approach that tolerates and embraces the diversity of the open source approach, especially when network-based integration is involved. There are many clever and motivated people out there, who have many different reasons to avoid buying directly into a Microsoft proprietary stack. Microsoft must employ diplomacy to woo these accounts; stubborn insistence will be both counterproductive and ineffective. Microsoft cannot prosper during the open source wave as an island, with a defenses built out of litigation and proprietary protocols.
I think it’s taken many years, but it does feel like Microsoft is starting to actually do just this.
I have often wondered why they don’t open up their free software to public as open source or shared source. I’d start with the web technologies Internet Explorer, Messenger, and all the Live services applications.
While I was at the Web 2.0 Expo last week I saw Clay Shirky give a talk on Cognitive Surplus. Out of all the things I learned at the event this one has really stuck with me. You can find the the full transcription online as well.
Mark’s a freelance interactive producer. He makes a living creating web sites and designing user experiences. Because of this there is a monetary value associated with his work. So to me, taking the design and not paying isn’t all that different from stealing from him.
So he went ahead and contacted them and told them it wasn’t cool. As a result they changed the background color and added a Creative Commons Licenses where Mark’s old copywrite information used to be. I didn’t grab a screen shot of the first rev of the site, but I did grab one after they updated it with the fancy yellow background.
Putting the CC license on the site really takes the cake though. First they take his work and then they licensed it for anyone else to use as well. Well, that is nice of them.
I know non-profits don’t have much in the way of money, but there are plenty of free templates out there for them to have used. What I really wonder is, if the person who is taking credit for the site made any money at all for their work. Even as an employee of the non-profit, it just doesn’t seem right to me.
Just wrapped up Mix. I was on the panel “Making it Simple: Designer/Developer Workflow.” It was a great group of people. I wish we had more time to continue the conversation. I want to thank Barbara from Microsoft for putting us all together.
All the Mix sessions and keynotes are online so be sure to check them all out.
I will write up more about the experience soon.
I’m currently at the airport waiting for the next lag of my flight to Austin for SXSW!
Making it Simple: Designer/Developer Workflow
Speakers: Marcelo Marer (Avenue A Razorfish), Ken Azuma (Second Factory), Robby Ingebretsen (Identity Mine), Ryan Lane (Wunderman), Mark Ligameri (frog design), Robert Tuttle (frog design)
Session Type: Panel
How do you combine a designer’s vision with the requirements of productive software? Left brain/Right brain workflow is a sophisticated problem that impacts us all but has no easy answers. Industry experts will share their learnings and invite you to join in on a lively discussion about the merits and costs of different approaches.