Subject: standards & FS
From: kragen@pobox.com (Kragen Sitaker)
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 10:23:25 -0400 (EDT)

The forces that impel standards-compliance and embrace-and-extend in
the proprietary-software world are much weaker in the free-software
world.

Customers like open software standards because it means they're not
dependent on one supplier, as they would otherwise be in the
proprietary-software world.  Free software means that, even if the
software interfaces are poorly specified, the customers are still not
dependent on one supplier.

Minority competitors like open software standards because, without
them, it is much more difficult for them to compete in the
proprietary-software market -- they cannot easily work with their
competitors' software or software written to work with it.  In the
free-software world, they can simply sell their competitors' software.

Monopoly, majority, and would-be niche competitors like to embrace and
extend open software standards they nominally comply with because it
makes them harder to compete with, in the proprietary-software world.

There are, of course, good reasons to have open software standards
*anyway*.  Specifically, you'd like to be able to replace everything on
one side of the "standards wall" with a different implementation.  But
this is not quite as compelling a reason as the others, I think.

-- 
<kragen@pobox.com>       Kragen Sitaker     <http://www.pobox.com/~kragen/>
TurboLinux is outselling NT in Japan's retail software market 10 to 1,
so I hear. 
-- http://www.performancecomputing.com/opinions/unixriot/981218.shtml