Open Source Doesn't Innovate

khess 1 Tallied Votes 478 Views Share

I read a story this morning over at that shocked me a bit. Neil McAllister discusses how proprietary software companies, like Microsoft, criticize open source projects by saying that, "They don't innovate, they copy." Is that really the consensus for an entire software realm that brought us the world wide web, TCP/IP, sendmail, DNS, DHCP, Perl, PHP, Apache, HTML and basically everything else that we use on the Internet today? Is that really the stance they want to take?

Neil also gives us seven major open source projects that are not knockoffs of Microsoft's knockoffs.

But, instead of focusing entirely on his article, I'd like to focus on the "missed it by a mile" target of companies, like Microsoft, that spout such nonsense.

As for knockoffs, who better than Microsoft to point that fickle finger?

I'm still shocked that IBM and Apple haven't sued the pants off of Microsoft for their obvious plagiarism of those companies' products and innovations.
From DOS to Windows to their GUI designs, icons, menus, .NET and program names, they (Microsoft) are the ones who play the knockoff card. And, they play it in spades.

Here is a list of Microsoft products and the originals:

  • Windows (The Name) - X Window
  • Windows - OS2 and Mac
  • Explorer Interface - Mac
  • MS Office - Lotus and Framework
  • SQL Server - Sybase
  • Exchange Server - Domino
  • Internet Explorer - Mosaic
  • MS DOS - CP/M and IBM PC DOS
  • C# - Java
  • NetBIOS/LanManager - IBM's NetBIOS/LanManager

Do you still want to talk about knockoffs and lack of innovation?

The world enjoys a free Internet, thanks to the innovations and donations of hundreds of thousands of hours and dollars from regular people like you and me. If a company like Microsoft owned the Internet, or the protocols and applications that make it work, it would be a different world.

There would be no innovation.

There would be no creativity.

There would only be Microsoft.

It would be like one of those science fiction movies where one huge company controls everything: dark, corrupt and oppressive.

Is that painting too bleak a picture for you?

Well, it's bleak.

To Neil: I applaud your article to bring these things to light.

To Microsoft: When I see some real innovation from you, instead of knockoffs, I'll listen.

I'm not a Microsoft hater until it comes to statements like this (That open source software isn't innovative).

What do you think of open source innovation? Knockoffs or true innovations?

Indian-Art 0 Newbie Poster

Yes Ken, bring out the facts.

The truth will set us free.

ashimmy 0 Newbie Poster

Ken, I think Neil said that about Microsoft, but I don't see any proof of that. From what I have seen from Microsoft recently, I don't think that is accurate at all. While I can understand your shock, I think Neil and you should put out some proof before condeming Microsoft here. I have written more on this on my Network World blog here.

SeanJA 0 Newbie Poster

You have heard of Xerox right?

Windows, OS2, MAC OS - Xerox
Explorer Interface - Xerox

Also, you know that OS2 was co-developed by M$ and IBM... nice try though.

tzs 0 Newbie Poster

You are a bit confused over OS/2, X Windows, and Microsoft Windows. Here's a timeline.

Late 1981: work starts on something called "Interface Manager" at Microsoft.
Late 1983: it is announced, under the name "Windows"
1984: X project starts at MIT
Aug 1985: IBM and Microsoft sign agreement to develop OS/2
Nov 1985: Microsoft Windows 1.0 is released
Apr 1987: OS/2 1.0 announced. Text mode only OS
Dec 1987: OS/2 1.0 released
Oct 1988: OS/2 1.1 released. First version with a GUI

Hence, you first two points, about the name of Windows and its relationship to OS/2, are both unlikely, assuming Microsoft does not have secret technology that allows them to steal ideas from the future. :icon_lol:

WorstUsernameEv 0 Newbie Poster

What a complete joke! Microsoft was born by copying (and stealing) everybody else's code! What a complete joke! Microsoft is the biggest copy-monkey of them all!

nervercerted 0 Newbie Poster

Echo Sean's comments about Xerox. Also Microsoft Windows was introduced in 1985, X11 (X Window) was introduced 1987.

As a sysadmin that pays the bills thanks to Linux I'm by no means a fanboi but this sort of MS bashing really pisses me off. Why do these types of articles never mention all the great pieces of software Microsoft releases?! I really doubt Microsoft would talk about open source software not innovating given the Windows network stack is a derivative of FreeBSDs.

SikoSoft 0 Junior Poster in Training

Being *inspired* by something is completely different than *copying* something.

With that said, I disagree that open-source doesn't innovate. I think some of the greatest software accomplishments have come from open-source collaboration.

If anything open-source evolves at a much faster rate than closed source because its guts are exposed to anyone willing to look, whereas with closed source it can take years for anyone to even find an exploit because it is tucked away in the shadows no one can see.

I personally feel closed-source is a thing of the past, and people who cling to obfuscating and hording their code will be marginalized in the next 10-20 years.

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