The true test of open source's ability to accelerate change, not just re-create what someone else has done, is Java.
Java will be coming under the GPL next year. The JBOSS Java middleware system is already under the GPL. So all new Java development, including things like the Terracotta JVM clustering project, are behind the open source business model.
This makes the next six months a key period. How well Java does against rivals like .Net, how well Sun itself does financially, and how well companies like RedHat (which owns JBOSS) and Terracotta do will be watched closely.
What we need to see are breakthroughs. We need to see Java capabilities start to accelerate beyond those of rival technologies. We need to see more investment in development. We need to see hiring.
The test is here.
Will open source pass?