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Monday, May 14, 2007

Future of proprietary

Wasn't it like 40 or so years ago when computer users didn't always buy a software?

It is Bill Gates' letter to hobbyists which is considered by many an important milestone in proprietary software concept. This concept, which rules in many software markets today, is essentially alienated by open source software.

What is the difference? There is one major different, and not the one many think.

Proprietary software in Bill Gates' view, is a software product produced by a highly educated team of professionals. As any product made or manufactured it has to be payed for in order to be used. This team will sign you on a binding license (just as a driver permit, which has its rules); this team will not be responsible if this product destroys everything else in your life, and, my favorite, they keep control regarding how you can or cannot use their product.

Open Source software, on other hand, is all about freedom. Not free (by money factor) as many believe to be the main attribute of it, but freedom to use it the way you like. No, it is still not responsible for possible problems in your life, but the actual usage clause is clear:

As long as you're not changing the product, you may do whatever you want with it. If you do change the product, credit those who had created the base version you changed and publish your changes to everyone who requests it. Obligate others to use the same licensing terms.
This freedom is the most important part. Not the price. Not the vendor. The freedom of use.

So why, then, vendors would fear open source concept?

The problem lays in "property" concept. When someone is speaking about private property, such as house or premises, it is well understood what is it about. But when someone is talking about "intellectual property", this is much more complicated. It sounds like someone has "patented" his or her own thoughts and other people are forbidden to think those thoughts. And if they do, they either should pay for it or go to jail - just as thieves would.

So until the law implementations of such "property" use would be clear to all, many vendors would prefer using "real commercial" software products.

And I haven't started talking about DRMed content yet...

Although I prefer Open Source and Free model, I do understand the place of a commercial software products in the world.

Vendors, please, free the use for your products. And you'll be fine.


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