Evaluating open source Windows

Summary:Yesterday I introduced speculation that programs like Firefox, Thunderbird(left), Open Officeand the Chandler project may be more of a threat to Windows than Linux. These open source Windows applications could, in time, help take share from Microsoft Office.

Yesterday I introduced speculation that programs like Firefox, Thunderbird(left), Open Officeand the Chandler project may be more of a threat to Windows than Linux.

These open source Windows applications could, in time, help take share from Microsoft Office. More important, they could demonstrate the true power of the open source model.

We don't have to argue about this. We can simply evaluate:

  • How quickly are improvements made, and how quickly are they delivered to the installed base?
  • How quickly are bug fixes created, and how quickly are security holes patched?

Note that we're no longer talking just about the user experience. We're talking about the process by which the products are kept whole, or incremental improvements are made, throughout the installed base.

Microsoft does this centrally. Change demands must go up the chain, they must be processed, and then they must go down the chain. They must also be done based on Microsoft's economic imperative.

Open source does this in parallel. Open source can be "forked," and anyone can bring an open source fix to the table.

The analogy is not perfect. There must be a central organization for any open source project to maintain the code base. But at least now we may be able to see which process works best, on a fairly level playing field.

Still, what do you think? Is the playing field level? Will these Windows apps get a true test? Join us in TalkBack and let's hash it out.

Topics: Open Source

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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