Everything.

A blog about nothing. By Don Kuntz.

It's not time to open source Windows

This is a response to Is it Time to Open Source Windows.

Microsoft open sourcing all versions of Windows under a GPL-like license would not get Microsoft back in the game.

Something most of the technology elite forget is that they’re atypical representations of computer users. The typical computer user doesn’t know that they’re technically paying for Windows, that built into the price of their computer was a Windows licensing fee. They don’t play with operating systems, or, for the most part, even know what the differences between an operating system, “Google”, and a web browser. And they don’t care.

Looking solely at the typical computer user, it doesn’t really make sense for Microsoft to open source Windows.

Equally important is that most people don’t know anything about Open Source, or Free Software (with a capital F and S). And, like before, they don’t care.

Moving on, there were a couple parts of the original article that I want to respond directly to.

Yes, I’m picking and choosing what parts I respond to.

Not to mention finally silencing the security community about transparency, and gaining the huge benefit of code review and patching by basically millions of windows developers globally.

This is entirely speculative. There’s no indication that an open sourced Windows would become community maintained, and there’s no grantee that Microsoft would accept most, or any, patches from the community. Regardless of Windows being an open source project, and being developed in the open, the response that should be expected from Redmond is Windows being exactly the same, but with other people being able to see the source.

A group could potentially “do things right”, and create a fork of Windows that is developed using a more open ideology, but that would require a tremendous amount of work, and most attempts would likely fizzle up and die rather quickly, or be only minor patches to the main source.

It could tamp down a bit on the legions of haters and trolls that target the closed code and corporate monolithic behavior of Microsoft mercilessly.

I can only speak for myself, but I don’t make fun of Microsoft for monolithic behavior, or anything to do with the fact that Windows is closed source. I make fun of Windows because I find it to be an inferior operating system used by the masses because they haven’t been indoctrinated to the “correct” way to computer.

That was meant to be sarcastic. But I do think that the only reason most people use Windows is because that’s what they have, and they don’t care enough to try something else out. Or the technical expertise required, but that’s becoming a smaller and smaller hurdle, just look at the Ubuntu, Debian, or Fedora installers, they’re all fairly easy to understand.

With a completely free and open operating system to build on and redistribute, the app developers and IT would come like bees to honey.

That seems unlikely. Developers don’t flock to Linux and Android because it’s open source. From my own experience and what I’ve read from other people who’ve switched from a Windows development environment to a Linux development environment, it’s more because the tools are nicer, and are ready out of the box.

Most applications being built today are web applications, making the end user’s operating system irrelevant. And most “hip” desktop applications being developed today are for OS X, and not an open source operating system.

This fate has always been inevitable. Since Linux, open source has killed the operating system profit margin.

I don’t think that’s how the world’s been working for the past 22 years. The author must believe that Linux is a relatively new creation, or is only looking at servers and mobile, and forgetting that most real work is done on desktops. It’s accepted that Linux has won the server front, and the Microsoft is playing catch- up on mobile. There really hasn’t been any operating system profit margin killed.

Again, the author seems to forget that the average computer user has never heard of Linux before, let alone knows that they could install a different operating system on their computer (provided they know what an operating system is).

Other than the definitely superior file system handling of windows explorer, why would someone choose Windows today?

Windows arguably doesn’t have a superior file system. This is all personal preference, but I find that the idea of “everything is on the file system” to be much nicer to work with than devices and files are separate.

The article seems, for the most part, to be looking at mobile, while attempting to reconcile the mobile arguments with the desktop, and does poorly. The segment on developers and IT moving to Windows if it were open sourced only seems to make sense from a mobile perspective, where Windows is playing catch-up.

Most of my problems with the article are alleviated when the entirety of Windows is substituted with just the mobile portion of Windows. And the article seems to make more sense when considered from that point (the inclusion of Android over other Linux distros being one point).