In another series of conversations on how Microsoft is the evil empire blah, blah... and how the open source community is the best thing to happen to the development community since Dilbert was published on the web.  The conversation started stating how there are so many free implementations and so much source code out there in the Java community and what a great model this has become for developers. How is that different from the Microsoft communities that have exisited since the old days of Visual Basic? The early days of community was all about building an ecosystem when other vendors and developers could also cash in by building third party controls.  Now people want it for free so the community responded with a wide variety of great community sites where you could go and get free code or an implementation.  What I don't get is what is the difference between Open Source and the Microsoft development community?  The licensing?  I have been in the field consulting for close to twelve years now and over the last seven or more years it has been very rare I have not been able to find free implementations or the source code I needed to solve a problem within a short time of searching.  What is the big difference between the Microsoft based communities that provide source code, implementation, newsgroup support, and the (J2) Open Source community that makes it so much better?

The Open Source community would like to pretend that it is vendor neutral, I beg to differ if Sun (because they invented and own Java and have refused to make it open) and IBM (because their development tools could never compete with Microsoft and Borland) were not backing the efforts of the community it would not survive or at least have the impact it does today.  Just the same way Microsoft backs the effort of many of it's communities.  How does OpenSource provide your company with a competitive advantage over the Microsoft communities?

Your comments are welcome.

Happy coding...

Ed