Hmmm, well I'm a bit skeptical when it comes to all the meanings (and consequences thereof) of the word "Open" these days in our beloved IT industry!!

While reading the news, I found two interresting quotes:

  • From Mr Peter Shay, executive Vice President of the Advisory Council, saying: "... the essence of 'Open' is the avoidance of vendor lock-in. In the long term, the users of proprietary software are at vendor's mercy" more
  • From Tim O'Reilly, CEO of O'Reilly Media, saying: "The open-source software industry needs to realize that the Internet, not the PC, is the platform. While many applications are built on top of open source, they themselves are not open source." concluding "In the new world we are moving into, open and free software does not guarantee freedom when applications depend on the network effects and data lock-in more than on software secrecy". more

Also, too often is "open source" associated to non-Microsoft technologies. Well, just be aware that Microsoft also supports and encourages the development of open source applications, among others, through GotDoNet. Also, there's a program called "Shared Source" that allows vendors, governements, schools, etc to have access to some Microsoft technologies' sources.

IMHO, in the capitalism world, it's exactly like in the chemical world: "Noting is created; nothing is destroyed; everything is transformed". IOW, the time (read: money) you spend developing software will have to come back somehow (installation, service, support, etc) - Clemens' open letter just explains it differently, and very nicely BTW. To me, "open source" is just a mean to an end.

Sometimes, I see "open" understood as "free", "freedom", "java", "non-Microsoft", "non-proprietary", "freely redistributable", etc. How about this one?:  "open" really means "accessible". Don't make any assumptions as far as technology, cost, licensing, etc ... you'd be surprised.

Try the exercise of replacing "open" with "accessible" and you'll understand all the consequences that can have on your understanding of the IT business. 

Just think about it ...

Disclaimer: This is the expression of my own opinion and, by no means, reflect Microsoft's.