TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Can Open Source Defeat Microsoft?

Re: Can Open Source Defeat Microsoft?
4 May 2006 14:21:35 -0700

Jack M. Germain wrote:

> While Microsoft has had some 20 years to make Office what it is today,
> most industry analysts say that new open-source contenders, such as
> OpenOffice, measure up reasonably well against Redmond's suite. But
> they also say that while these suites do have most of the features of
> Microsoft Office, they lack certain advanced capabilities that make
> all the difference.

The history of technology is filled with technically inferior products
overtaking superior ones. "Features" are not the only factor that
drives the marketplace.

Issues like compatibility, cost, and product support are important,

> But an interesting question to ask is whether a group of volunteers
> -- however large -- can ever hope to measure up against Microsoft's
> millions of dollars.

Having worked with various volunteer organizations for much of my
life, IMHO they are a very weak type of organization. I do not see
them being able to compete in the marketplace because of their
inherent weaknesses.

> But there are plenty of those in the open-source community
> who are willing to give that comparison a shot.

"Open source" in itself is only one of many factors in purchasing a
product, it is by no means a guarantee of success in itself. Again,
technical superiority is by no means a guarantee of marketplace

Whether we like it or not, Microsoft now has a powerful momentum
behind it that has created a "critical mass" for its products. It
replaced earlier products that did not have that momentum. The
competition must become radically superior in price/performance to MS
to gain a foothold and have some luck as well. In practice that
requires that (1) the competition comes up with a great product at a
very low price, (2) MS itself has become stagnate and overpriced, and
(3) multiple large customers and hardware makers buy the alternative

Years ago IBM had the mainframe market which meant the whole
information processing market mostly to itself. But the competition,
ironically IBM's own PC division, came up with a better product, IBM's
mainframe divison got bloated, and customers loved the PC and
associated software. Suddenly accounting applications that were once
the sole domain of the mainframe were now done on PC spreadsheet
programs. Along with this was technological changes will allowed
cheap PCs to be built.

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