You’d expect, as my friend Preston Gralla did, that when someone says “proprietary software is eventually going to be doomed,” and that Microsoft’s future might best be served in releasing its own version of Linux that he’s a Linux fan. Wrong, this prophet of Windows doom and gloom was Keith Curtis, a former Microsoft Research staffer. Could he be right? I think the answer is yes and no.
Yes, proprietary software is on the decline. Forget about the free software ideology that holds that free access to code is morally right. Businesses have figured out that not only does open source tend to produce better code, it’s cheaper to produce it. Economic reality has made even Microsoft to, ever so reluctantly, embrace some open-source projects.
Sure you have to share the fruits of your efforts in open-source development, but you end up creating better code faster. As many developers have discovered it’s a lot easier to build on top of other programmer’s good work rather than waste time with proprietary software development constant reinvention of the wheel.
And, yes, Microsoft could release a Linux of its own with a Windows Aero-like interface on top of it. Why not? It’s not that hard to make a Linux desktop distribution.