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Open Source Software Essay

Free and Open Source Software has been around for quite some time. Free software has always been a controversy. This time someone is trying to take a stance against it. More than just someone but a major software company namely Microsoft. The whole issue is coming against software patents. Patents are there to protect the make, use, and selling of an invention but in this case would deal with software. Microsoft is not keen on the idea of software being readily available especially to businesses at little to no cost.

In the business world this is unheard of. To let companies take control and create custom software with almost no cost is being attacked. Microsoft is quoted in a CNN Money article: “Microsoft takes on the free world” as saying, “We live in a world where we honor, and support the honoring of, intellectual property,” They were quoted as calling this a matter of principle. I can understand principle and I’m definitely not against making money. I believe that enough is enough. Free and Open Source Software is there to benefit the public.

In suggesting that business owners need only buy licensed software or that business owners are only obligated to purchase said software is irrational. Putting aside costs, theoretically let’s say there is a software developer that is hired by a company to create custom software. This company favors Linux rather than Windows not to say that Windows isn’t a great operating system but to say that someone does not have the freedom to create is ridiculous. To limit this company because of some alleged patent laws is preposterous.

Eben Moglen, longtime counsel to the Free Software Foundation and head of the Software Freedom Law Center, says that, “software is a mathematical algorithm and, as such, not patentable. ” This statement is critical because of the seeming less attack on inventors and software developers. Software has always been improved and with the strict patent laws associated with Microsoft there is no inventing unless it’s specifically for Microsoft. There needs to be a line drawn and some slack given as to what is actually infringing on patents and what is hindering creativity and innovation.

There are current lawsuits with Microsoft versus FOSS (Free and Open Source Software). This has been referred to as a cold war. One side saying they will sue if the other continues to produce and the other saying that if you sue we will be forced to sue back. FOSS has always been under attack since it began. Specifically attacked is Linux. In PCWorld: Microsoft Vs. Open Source: Now It’s Political, “Once you leave the shores of the U. S. the question would be not if but where is Linux being used” in government, said Matthew Szulik, chief executive officer of Linux software maker Red Hat.

The industry is in agreement that government use of open-source software particularly is growing amongst popularity. As much as I would like this to mostly be about freedom of invention and creativity the bottom line is that at the end of the day it’s all about money. No one sees the need to be forced to buy ongoing licensing to use software that most believe the costs are becoming unreasonable. Of course the government is not about spending. (Right? )

As quoted in the article Microsoft Vs. Open Source, “Price aside, government officials around the world are also looking for ways to increase use of local software and curb the export of IT funds to major U. S. companies. That is the case in a number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region. ” Money makes the world go round. The whole fear that Microsoft has is that it will hurt the pockets of Microsoft. “Windows still powers roughly 9 out of 10 traditional desktops, with the rest going to Mac and Linux. Linux’s failure to capture desktop share is disappointing to many,” Zemlin admitted.

But “the good news is the traditional PC desktop is becoming less important, and areas where Linux is very strong in terms of client computing are becoming more important. ” as expressed in an article of Network Wold: Bashing Microsoft ‘like kicking a puppy,’ says Linux Foundation chief. We could argue that Microsoft is just some big heartless corporation that wants to make money. That is true they are and honestly if anyone expected them to respond in any way different was severely delusional.

The act does need to be reformed to show exactly that which is crossing the line in creating software and tying the hands of developers. The debate surrounds the open source code that exists and who should have access to this code. From a business perspective giving out that information obviously would be detrimental to the success of the company. While Microsoft is currently the most dominant software in the business world I doubt that business would be ready to just make a leap to Open Source Software.

In the technical world not everyone is a computer geek. Microsoft still has the support to help customers. The shift will take a while and to take down a giant such as Microsoft is not impossible but not something that will happen overnight. The large factor in this is the ignorance of other Operating Systems on a general knowledgebase. Companies and governments that choose to use this FOSS should have the choice. A need for a revision of patent rights and software development need attention.


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