In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, columnist Lee Gomes raised some interesting points about Microsoft, the most applicable for this blog being Redmond opening up Microsoft Windows. Of his comments, I particularly liked the following:
Open source software such as Linux is traditionally seen as the opposite of proprietary software from the likes of Microsoft and Apple. But that’s a false dichotomy. Why can’t Windows be proprietary, for-profit and copy-protected – while at the same time be open for user control and inspection? If Windows were a car, you’d never be able to open the hood and see what was underneath.
Or in other words, commercial open source? That’s funny, because that’s exactly the model that vendors such as SugarCRM and others have perfected over the years. And as Gomes points out, an open source development model doesn’t have to equal unprofitability, it simply results in a superior means in which to develop software and conduct business.
Customer lock-in doesn’t have to come via a proprietary model, it can be ensured by earning customer loyalty through offering consumers direct control and flexibility. The benefits that the Microsoft ecosystem would receive by opening up Windows would be limitless.