Friday, October 07, 2005

Too many cooks? Open Source vs Commercial Part 2

(This is part 2 of my post titled Too many cooks? Open Source vs Commercial Part 1)

So why do most Silicon Valley people hate Microsoft? I mean, the vast majority of all home computers in the world are running some version of Windows. So they must be doing something right...right?

As I have come to find out, big business is a good thing...until it gets TOO big. At least that's what people here seem to be telling me. Too much power in too few hands is a dangerous thing. Monopoly bad. Competition good. Microsoft bad. Anyone competing with Microsoft good.

There may be some truth to these statements. But it seems to be more of a religious argument than anything else. Why else would people have used Netscape 4 (worst browser EVER) instead of Internet Explorer 4? The bottom line is that there will always be die hards in both camps.

In any case, the open source movement is spurred on by the likes of Microsoft. Passionate people looking for alternatives go against commercial conventions and release basically FREE software worked on by other like-minded programmers all pulling together for the same cause. Sounds good! And in some cases, it is good. But in other cases, it can truly be a mess.

I use many tools in my job...many are open source, many are commercial

Use the best tool for the job. That's easy to say, a lot harder to do. In many cases, the best tool may be a ridiculously expensive piece of software that only corporations can afford to purchase. I've seriously seen software aimed at the corporate world sell for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Enter the open source alternatives. You may be lacking a few features, or installations may be awkward or cumbersome, but heck, it's free!

So why not opt for the alternative every time? Support, for one. Many open source programs don't offer professional support. Sure, there are plenty of online discussion forums that can provide help, but that's never a guarantee. Also, with open source, since there is no true governing body except the programmers that write the software, there is no guarantee that the product will keep getting updated at all. The programmers could all decide they are bored with the project, and you're up the proverbial creek.

..........TO BE CONTINUED...........

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