84 thoughts on “Microsoft Open Source

  1. ever get a look at the windows code [various leaks, etc]? it will take them till 2017 just to clean it up so that they’d not be mortified posting the source up.

  2. Come on, Matt. This is a cop-out post on your part. No explanation, no defense, just a wild claim. This would be like me saying Open Source will die in the next 20 years.

  3. But more interesting than the ‘when’ is the ‘why’. As an attempt to take out (more) competition, forced by governments who want to break their power, or just because they suddenly believe it’s ‘the right thing’?

  4. Bill Gates is not selfish, and Microsoft is not dumb.

    Open Source is going to be the dominant form of software in the future, and when Microsoft switches over it will be a competitive business decision, not a philosophical one.

  5. So Pray do tell, What is Microsoft without Windows???

    Games, productivity software, enterprise software, imaging software, dev tools, runtime environments, search, internet, hardware… [deep breath] …and lots more that I’m forgetting.

    They’re lots of things, pulled in sometimes-conflicting ways. There are folks there who really grok FOSS, there are folks there who don’t and who are violently opposed to it, and there are lots of folks who don’t care one way or another as long as they’re employed. (Disclosure: I don’t work for the Redmond Mother Ship, but my current employer does a lot of work for/with them.)

  6. OS is older than Microsoft but I don’t think MS will open its sources so quickly. Maybe only when their copyright is expired, they will do it…

  7. this is good news albeit it’s worth mentioning here that a decade’s gonna be a long time to know what Microsoft really is going to do with Windows.
    Maybe all this is just a washup or something? Any guesses?

  8. I think Microsoft will either make Windows Open Source by 2012 or have disappeared by 2017.
    Everytime they change their OS – now Vista – they create a great havoc for users, both home and enterprise users. Havoc in terms of support, hardware needs, peripheral upgrades, etc., in exchange of new features almost nobody needs.
    Now there are at least 2 mayor hardware players offering Linux for desktops and laptops (Lenovo and Dell), plus many others offering it for servers. Plus there are friendly linux distributions like Ubuntu. Vista adoption rate will be slower than that of XP.
    More and more devices are using Linux without users knowing it (i.e. Tom-tom GPS Navigator, wifi router, PVR, mobile phone, etc.)
    That’s why Microsoft will have to either change their policy or die.

  9. Unlikely. Windows is a dead end, wrought with backwards compatibility woes, tons of different APIs to do the same thing to support, and an ever piling amount of cruft that takes longer and longer to work architectural changes in. Sure, Microsoft could spend 5-10 billion opening their code up in a couple of years, but who would really care about it? No one cared when their code was leaked a while ago.

  10. Seems unlikely to me, seeing that a major part of Microsoft’s revenue comes from selling Windows licences. Do you think this would just be the OS? How about the server applications (SQL, Exchange, etc)?

    Of course, making predictions ten years ahead about the computer industry is a great way of being mocked at some point in the future.

    I predict that in ten years time, the industry will be dominated by flurgle, with wibble coming a close second, using the bingbong licence model.

  11. May i know what is so special in year 2017 is Billy gonna die in that year and MS gonna crash all its funds and bankrupted for MS to become opensource ??

  12. What is Microsoft without Windows? Microsoft could try to rule the Internet. Messaging, search, web 2.0. 🙂 And you know Google and Apple plans to bid for the 700MHz thingy…

  13. Thats an unbelievably wild claim Matt, and all you’ve backed it up with is a link to opensource.org, which mentions nothing about it.

    Maybe you should have started your post with “I believe that..”

  14. I’m not quite sure if we’ll see “Windows” beeing open sourced in the next decade. There’s too much variety in the term “Windows” one can think of. Sure, MS could potentially live on (as in survive as a company that wants to make $) without their OS, but it would certainly make things harder to manage in terms of interoperability between the products MS uses to generate its revenue from.

    But I agree with Matt – if this change should come (never say never, 10 years is quite a long timeframe in computing), it will be a business decision.

  15. Unless there is a large scale movement of leadership from Microsoft that is replaced with people that actually understand the Open Source principles, they may talk Open Source but they are doing it only to pollute the words.

    Read Groklaw for a while and you’ll figure it out.

  16. Seems like a pretty outlandish statement, but it does make sense. Microsoft could still make money off of Windows even if it was open source, since any licenses they sell would be for updates or support, not the OS itself. There are Linux distros like that. Being open source doesn’t necessarily mean free (as in free beer).

  17. @ST/op: thanks for the info! I actually wasn’t aware that Solaris was OS. Now I have something to look into tonight 🙂

    Matt, congratulations. Google “Microsoft Open Source” and you’re on the first page(!). I hope no one will take this seriously.

  18. @Gabor: no wai!!1

    @Milorad: Haha, thanks for that response 😀

    In all seriousness though, I admit I don’t entirely not believe Microsoft would ever open Windows’s source. I just find it pretty unlikely, personally. Or maybe not. Then again, 10 years is a looooong time. We’ll see what happens with MS after that.

  19. because in ten years all media will be so incredibly convergent that the operating system in itself wont be that important anymore. since ms already has hardware to deliver interactive television services such as the xbox, after a period of time, keeping a secure operating system wont be as important.

    we’re talking about smart set top box controllers and virtual machines to integrate services if we’re going to talk about the future.

  20. @bluEyez Okay one thing Bill Gates isn’t the boss anymore he retired he juste an CEO. He own many actions of Microsoft but isn’t the boss anymore.

    And if windows ever become OpenSource well it simply means windows will disapear know why?

    Most users that didn’t switch to Linux did it because Progs arent fully compatible even with emulators and games aren’t working so fine.

    But if we get our hands on a OpenSource windows that means we can improve Linux ( Yeah its funny that wouldn’t be an improve…) for gamers and Win32 aplications!

  21. Let’s not forget who Microsoft Windows is really marketed to. Corporations buy more licenses than any retail consumers. This is where they make their money. It’s just like Cisco — they are reknown for their routers yet its their switches which make up the single largest portion of their revenue. That’s because one router can handle every user if set up properly but 400 employees would require several switches. So is true with Windows. Retail users need a copy or 2 while even the smallest “business” would use 10 or so and maybe a domain controller.

    Seriously, many businesses under 50 exployees don’t have in-house IT staff. In my travels as a consultant I’ve yet to get a call because someone screwed up their Ubuntu or Fedora desktop workstation — and I doubt that’s because they all work so well, more likely because they don’t exist. Open source operating systems are for IT geeks, not end users like your Mom.

    And… I’d be willing to bet you replied to this post using at least ONE Microsoft product.

  22. @ whomever stated the difference between Windows and Java, remember that Solaris was open sourced as well.

    Microsoft Open Sourcing would be interesting. Sun did it because they still have the hardware sales and support to make money on. Microsoft doesn’t really have hardware sales(mice, keyboards, and 360’s don’t count) so would that mean that Microsoft would actually offer support worth paying for?

  23. Amazing work here. A one line post getting such heated response. Personally I can see some sense in this. Many Linux distros are all about the service contracts for revenue. That’s how IT works for UK businesses. HM Prison Service have a 20 year service contract costing millions. Imagine if Microsoft cut out the middle man and provided Windows Server support and networking support. I’m not saying it’s a definite but it’s a possible.

  24. My guess is Vista is the final OS M$ will ever produce. The open source claim put here has a big nonsense factor to it, open source what, why etc.

  25. Socially, this looks like a sucessful post. 🙂 It generated a lot of conversation around an idea. Yay memes.

    Truly, with the acceleration of technology not so much by an x^2 as an x^3 function as Ray Kurzweil and Bill Joy have talked about, the whole concept of an general purpose OS and its context in our society will be much much different than it is today. I think it will be a much smaller deal.

    Personal computing used to be so cutting edge. I think we are fooling ourselves to think that a personal computer is going to be anything but commonplace 10 years from now, and all of its parts become more commonplace as a result.

    How can virtualization not play a big role moving forward? OSs become a commodity in the sense that it really doesn’t matter what you use. I think this will inspire a new kind of laziness.

    For instance, think about hardware as it has grown up from the 1960s. Code had to be written very tightly to take advantage of limited resources (we call them limited by comparison to what we are used to. They were working with the state of the art equipment at the time, so they probably wouldn’t have had the same viewpoint).

    Skip a lot of history and fast forward to the 90s and present day, and we see a lot of laziness in that area. We just throw bigger and bigger already assembled pieces together and exploit their best parts. This is dreadfully inefficient compared to what *could* be done with the same hardware. But much more efficient when it comes to manpower and currency, which is what we do in a free market economy…

    Virtualization becomes more popular. As it becomes ubiquitous, it will be the same kind of outlet for laziness as bigger hardware became. You can’t figure out how to solve X Y or Z? Well, its faster to just throw another virtual machine into the fray with a configured from scratch piece that you can use in place of some harder to configure piece…This is just a ‘for instance’.

    OK, I’ve rambled a bit. 10 years from now is anyone’s guess, because technology will have grown to an unimaginable point. Growth is exponential and we are seeing exponential growth of the rate of growth because technology is applied back to the development of technology.

    Those of us who have been in IT are in danger of being a bit too arrogant. Computer people in the 70s and 80s were a lot more cutting edge than we are now or will be. We’d do well to adjust our perspective. Car mechanics were on par with any white collar professional in the earlier part of last century with regard to income and lifestyle. Technology of cars grew to the point that most mechanics are technicians following procedures and using machines to help them do their job. IT professionals will be no different.

    My point is ultimately that a general purpose OS is so unimportant 10 years from now that it just doesn’t command the same power as it does now near its peak, and that Windows is now what it always was and always will be – a brilliant product. It is engineered to be exactly what is supposed to be. It has just enough utilities that you will use it, but not so many that it doesn’t create a market around itself. You must buy extra things to make it useful ultimately. It is just as stable as it needs to be, but not so stable that they put themselves and the market that supports them out of business. Windows doesn’t ‘totally suck’. Windows is much more than an OS. It’s a precious tool that serves to keep Microsoft exactly where it is.

  26. Open Source does not have to mean GPL. Microsoft & Gates have shown themselves very good at negotiating favorable nuances from what otherwise seem like unfavorable Standards. Free doesn’t to have mean giving-away-beer – the Leaders of OS stress that over & over. There is a business-friendly way to do it. SCO sued IBM for $3 billion, over OS, eh?

    OSWin? WinOS? Hmmm. 😉

  27. there may be an open Windows but it is certainly not going to replace the original version. Windux maybe like Windows lite?

  28. Actually, we have been to pretty much this same movie before – with some of the same cast.

    Microsoft & Bill Gates were not always the duty hate-object. In the late ’70s and through the ’80s, that role was filled by IBM. The vitriol directed at Big Blue on magazine-pages of the time, by the same writing-class who frequent Matt’s products today, was eerily like that which we aim at Microsoft, in more recent years.

    IBM would suggest that they were going to produce a new product, sooo much better than that pathetic junk you poor figures are using now …. then we waited, and waited … while lesser businesses died on the vine, waiting for Blue to make the move. It was a trick, plain & simple.

    If somebody got a bright-idea, and it looked like it might become an issue for Big Blue’s business, they just waved cash at ’em until … they became part of Blue. Where have we heard that lament before?

    It was noticed long, long ago, that Bill Gates did a great deal of his critical self-modelling, based on IBM. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since the formative days, but it is still solid advice, to look to IBM’s history & trajectory, when trying to guess where Microsoft will go.

    At an earlier point in history, Bill Gates and Microsoft were in fact our Matt Mullenweg and WordPress. Exciting. Unconventional. Trail-blazing. Doing it in the big guy’s face.

    There is a pattern here… 😉

  29. By 2017, MS will have just released it’s next OS upgrade, and they’ll have re-branded it to “Doors.” Doors won’t be backward compatible with any hardware of software that windows operates on, so MS will feel comfortable open sourcing windows at that point, hoping to knock the wind out of the sails of Linux in the bargain.