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don park replies to larry lessig

Don has posted this detailed response to Larry Lessig's comments on the OSAF situation.

Documents about Chandler talks about various "killer features". Killer features are intended to kill something. If Chandler kills Outlook, we'll have Chandler where we used to have Outlook. Nothing really changed except now no one is making a dime instead of the Bully making all the money. The consumers will love it of course and learn to take free software as the norm. How dare you charge money for what should be free? The service sector will eventually get nothing in return because consumer software will be so easy to use and customize that they won't need any help. The book industry will live a little longer. No wonder Tim O'Reilly is so strongly pushing open source and free software. How about free books too Tim?

Frankly, I don't know where the software industry is going. I know Microsoft is causing serious harm, but I also understand their position which is "you can't punish us for being successful." Understanding or not, I am willing to sacrifice my sense of fairness in return for the well-being of the software industry. I think the appropriate solution is to break them up and implement preventive steps such as a) requiring software companies to place file format in the public domain, b) outlaw harmful bundling, and c) strengthening industry associations to maintain the well-being of the software industry.

This is similar to what I was saying in this entry yesterday although I am not completely sure that the final conclusion, where people "get used to free" so they never want to pay again, is something that would necessarily happen. One example comes to mind: Opera. Browsers have been free for a while now, with good OS integration, and relatively good products. Yet Opera survives and improves, sometimes creating UI or app innovations. Whether they can keep it up in the long run remains to be seen, but they seem to be ok so far.

I guess that a part of me really wants to believe that it's the best products that win, eventually, or at least manage to survive and prosper even if in niches.

Additionally, the service/product dichotomy is big and creating a growing rift, companies like IBM and Sun depend on services while Microsoft depends only on products. For services-companies, the best thing is open-source. For product-oriented companies, the best thing is closed source. Small developers, who could benefit from a healthy mix of both, simply get crushed in between.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on October 25 2002 at 12:59 PM

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