Subject: Re: HBS WK: Who will win Microsoft or Linux?
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2005 15:03:46 +0900

>>>>> "Kelly" == Kelly Anderson <Anderson> writes:

    Kelly> Stephen, I'm not disagreeing with you, I just don't
    Kelly> understand what you mean precisely by "countervailing
    Kelly> influence" below. Could you elaborate a little please?

If demand is big enough, and (as has historically been the usual case)
proprietary software gets there first with better features, there will
be plenty of profit to be made until OSS starts to catch up.  There's
no reason why OSS and proprietary software can't coexist.

At that point, there are two models.  The Microsoft model is "It's a
snake, whack it with a lawyer until it goes away!"[1] and if that
fails, "embrace and extend" until you're back at "MSFT is first with
better features."  The 3M model is "sell your current app to
CheapBytes, and find a new app where there isn't any competition yet."
The Netscape variant is to OSS your current app, I guess.

In the 3M model, OSS and proprietary software can coexist forever.  Of
course, if OSS gets there "first and better", it's impossible for
proprietary software get a foothold, but given the infinite variety of
possible applications, most of which we don't know about yet[2],
surely there's plenty of room for proprietary innovation, even if OSS
becomes much more pervasive than it is today.[3]

[1]  All metaphors (C) Mixmaster.

[2]  I won't argue that, it's my religion, OK?

[3]  Unless copyleft finds a way to penetrate the "exec boundary",
which seems unlikely.

School of Systems and Information Engineering
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.