Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/02/16/open_source_stifles_innovation/

Open Source ‘stifles’ innovation

Thanks for the warning, Microsoft

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Software, 16th February 2001 15:48 GMT

A Microsoft bigwig has gone on record today claiming that open source code will stifle innovation. He said that the threat from open source needs to be taken on board by legislators.

Can this possibly be right? It sounds like he just got hold of the oppositions' script and changed a few words around. Isn't this what Linux fans have been saying for years about proprietary software?

Well, it might sound strange to us, but OS chief Jim Allchin (a relative of Jimmy Hill perhaps?) says that freely distributed code actually threatens intellectual property rights, and could hinder R&D spending.

In an entirely unconvincing rant about the evils of freely distributed code, Allchin said: "I'm an American, I believe in the American Way," he said. "I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don't think we've done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat."

So, what are you saying Jim? That it is the American way to keep anything that is valuable a secret, or that American policy makers are so dim-witted that they can't grasp the concept of co-operative collaboration?

Either way, the open source community is not convinced.

Brian Behlendorf, founder of CollabNet, told reporters at Bloomberg: "I think Microsoft is trying to paint the open-source community as being fascist; that all software has to be free, or none of it can be."

He suggested that Allchin might have misunderstood the open source model, saying that most open source companies kept some intellectual property rights to their material.

Allchin rounded off his thoughts on the matter with the immortal line: "We can build a better product than Linux. There is always something enamoring about thinking you can get something for free."

We thought this cartoon over at Userfriendly was appropriate. ®