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Microsoft GNU is Not Unix

Gates: Open Source Kills Jobs 976

Posted by michael
from the snap!-snap! dept.
theodp writes "On the Malaysian leg of a whirlwind Asian tour, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates voiced his concerns over the growing goodwill towards open source, especially in Asia, emphasizing how damaging open source software can be. 'If you don't want to create jobs or intellectual property, then there is a tendency to develop open source. It is not something you do as a day job. If you want to give it away, you work on it at night,' he said. Gates, who apparently has never contended with the horrors of a VB upgrade, when on to say that '[Open source] doesn't guarantee upward compatibility.'"
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Gates: Open Source Kills Jobs

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  • whew... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:15PM (#9668525)
    I read that as Gates kills Jobs (Steve)
  • by h4rm0ny (722443) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:16PM (#9668533) Journal

    This comes up again and again. The basis of it is the idea that if people write their own software then there will be no market for others to sell it to them.

    This seems true in general, but there are three important points.
    • There will still be a market for customising this software. It is likely to be smaller though.
    • There will be a market for supporting this software. Due to it being cheaper and thus more widespread, and due to it being less homogenous. This market, and the education needed to work in it, is likely to grow.
    • Without having to spend their money on propritary closed source software, people will have more money to spend on other things - resulting in a net gain for any society that uses Free software. Note this effect is even more greatly enhanced by the fact that the free software will not be taxed unlike proprietary software.


    The software industry has to face up to the fact that programming is no longer such a specialist skill. A good parallel to this might be writing. It was once quite mystical to the majority of the population. But I think we can all see that our world has benefited from the skill not remaining the part of a small guild or group.

    And yes, I have read the article already (I'm a subscriber). Billy Gates seems to be falling back to his old tactics of targeting schools with US$20 million in cash grants in Asia. Can't see it working myself.
    • by soloport (312487) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:25PM (#9668642) Homepage
      People used to laugh at the MP3 craze, thinking that it would never truly take off because the sound generated by MP3 playback (lossy) was "inferior". Trouble with that mindset is, disruptive technologies always offer change in two directions: 1) "Good enough" is good enough; and 2) Cheap, if not free of cost, is the norm.

      Linux and it's software ilk are merely a sign of the times. They're "good enough" and they're cheaper than the stuff they now replace. Linux is the future.

      Now go buy a Mac!
      • by hazem (472289) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:45PM (#9668832) Journal
        This is a perfect example of a disruptive technology. Sure, OSS takes jobs from Microsoft, but it adds jobs elsewhere in the economy - everywhere someomone wants to develop something that needs an OS but doesn't want to pay MS for it.

        Buggy whip makers were put out of work by the automobile. But the smart buggy whip makers turned to making sex toys. Sex always sells!
        • by FauxPasIII (75900) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:19PM (#9669104)
          > Buggy whip makers were put out of work by the automobile

          -nod- Microsoft suffers from the same problem - there's just no market for their buggy products anymore.
        • Textile workeres in 1811 were losing their jobs to stocking-machines that did knitting more cheaply than themselves, and indeed decided to destroy the machines. They organized into a group known as the Luddites [wikipedia.org], until England cracked down hard on them - wikipedia reporting that "at one time, there were more British troops fighting the Luddites than Napoleon Bonaparte". Funny I never would have thought of Gates as a Luddite trying to fight advancements in technology. (especially interesting since we know Bill Joy [wired.com] has luddite tendancies)

          Also interesting is that Cringley has often written about Microsoft's technology making "full employement" for msft technicians [pbs.org]. Interestingly, though, he thinks Apples kill more IT jobs than Linux.

          Macs threaten the livelihood of IT staffs. If you recommend purchasing a computer that requires only half the support of the machine it is replacing, aren't you putting your job in danger? Exactly.

          Ideally, the IT department ought to recommend the best computer for the job, but more often than not, they recommend the best computer for the IT department's job.
          ...
          Again, it comes down to the IT Department Full Employment Act. Adopting Linux allows organizations to increase their IT efficiency without requiring the IT department to increase ITS efficiency. It takes just as many nerds to support 100 Linux boxes as 100 Windows boxes, yet Linux boxes are cheaper and can support more users. The organization is better off while the IT department is unscathed and unchallenged.
          • by hazem (472289) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:58PM (#9669430) Journal
            Again, it comes down to the IT Department Full Employment Act. Adopting Linux allows organizations to increase their IT efficiency without requiring the IT department to increase ITS efficiency. It takes just as many nerds to support 100 Linux boxes as 100 Windows boxes, yet Linux boxes are cheaper and can support more users. The organization is better off while the IT department is unscathed and unchallenged.

            It's funny that you quote that. At my last job, we made the opposite change. Went from about 100 linux boxes/x-terminals to a 100 windows boxes. There were two of us techs, and our workload increased significantly. We no longer had time to work on "fun" projects that people wanted - web access to e-mail, trying new products, etc. We spent all of our time patching OSs, fighting viruses, and reinstalling hosed systems. Sure, we still used the same two techs, but I finally quit from the tedium of the job. It was no longer fun.

            I think it all depends on what you want your IT people doing. Use windows, and they'll spend a lot of time fixing windows boxes. Use unix/linux, and there's a good chance that you'll be able to assign interesting projects that improve everyone's effectiveness and efficiency.
            • Cringly's full of S#$T.

              The fact is that the Mac, prior to OS X, is adequate for most company tasks, but has major problems of its own (remote manageability being the first, and technical things like memory management being a second). In the end it doesn't require just half the effort -- it probably decreases the efficiency of the IT department sufficiently to make it impractical.

              With OS X, things improved on all fronts quite drastically. However....

              I see no reason why OS X should take any less time than Linux to support and

              Macs cost much more than Linux systems.

              Secondly, I think you make an excellent point about maintenance of Windows vs Linux systems. Windows requires much more maintenance on average, and and by all accounts has more downtime than Linux.

              My point of trying to get my customers to switch to Linux is that they become free to dream about how they want their computer to work for them, not the other way around.

              Also, the people making the recommendations are not the ones whose jobs are at risk if jobs are to be cut.
    • The real fact that the software industry has to face up to is that it's not an industry. They're really not manufacturing software. They've had two decades of selling software as if it were a durable good, not I.P. Of course in recent years they've joined the ??AA in trying to make software, along with music and video, a strange sort of hybrid durable good with I.P. aspects to it.

      This latter model is really scary, because they sell it to you as if it were a durable good, yet you don't really own it, becaus
  • by Tuxedo Jack (648130) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:17PM (#9668547) Homepage
    But default installations of his company's closed-source software kills systems.
  • by topynate (694371) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:17PM (#9668551)
    Apple to remain unaffected, release 35" computer screen.
  • In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kunudo (773239) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:17PM (#9668552)
    Hondas kill Jobs (Ford VP on sales tour). Mkay?
    • by rlanctot (310750) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:43PM (#9669312)
      1) Open source gives away software for free.
      2) Giving something away for free is anti-capitalist.
      3) Anti-capitalism is Communism!
      4) Communists don't think like you and I do.
      5) You or I would never kill a puppy.
      6) As neither of us would kill a puppy, and communists don't think like you or I do, communists will kill puppies.
      7) Therefore, Open Source Kills puppies.
      8) Hence: Chewbacca.

      (It's satire people...)
  • by damm0 (14229) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:19PM (#9668567) Homepage Journal
    Visual Basic generates jobs. The kinds where real professionals are called in to fix a big mess.
  • stupid argument (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Coneasfast (690509) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:19PM (#9668568)
    this is one of the most stupid arguments that gates is saying.

    this is like saying "volunteer work is causing unemployment for people who wish to do the same work for pay"

    open source doesn't create jobs but the ultimate end result will benefit mankind as a whole. gates either knows nothing about economics or is really trying to push some BS onto us.
    • Re:stupid argument (Score:5, Insightful)

      by h4rm0ny (722443) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:29PM (#9668674) Journal

      "volunteer work is causing unemployment for people who wish to do the same work for pay"

      I have nothing worthwhile to add to what you said, but I just want to let you know I'm going to steal that analogy and use it every chance I get.

      You've just shot down every argument against Open Source in a single sentance. Quite Beautiful.
    • Re:stupid argument (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vxvxvxvx (745287)
      Another good analogy would be comparing Gates view to that of politicians who want to raise tariffs to "protect" our manufacturing jobs.

      In capitalism, whomever can make the goods at the lowest cost is gonna get the business. If you can't compete, you shouldn't be making those goods.

      To give unefficient businesses, either through government subsidies or law, guaranteed income is a bad thing. You waste resources that could be put to something else while the competition can do the same job using less resource
    • by Surt (22457) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:05PM (#9669011) Homepage Journal
      But but .... volunteer work _does_ cause unemployment for those who would wish to do those jobs for pay.

      That's why I leave my grocery cart in the parking lot rather than return it to the store!
    • by Venner (59051) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:09PM (#9669047)
      this is like saying "volunteer work is causing unemployment for people who wish to do the same work for pay"

      Sad as it is, some unions do use that argument. There is a nearby state park that has unionized maintenance workers. It is a several thousand acre park, which, due to budget cuts, only has two full time maintenance employees. Both guys work hard (maintaining roads grass, trash, buildings, etc,) but there is only so much two guys can do, and the parks trails are in terrible shape. Not just in need of mulch or stone, but washed out or nearly impassible due to overgrowth, downed trees, etc.

      Some local businesses offered to donate tools and materials and some local Sierra Club (et al) members offered to volunteer their time to get the trials back into shape. Since it is a public park and is currently not useable for hiking by the public, I thought that was a great gesture from the community. Can you guess what heppened?

      The state union told them to go stick it somewhere. Despite the fact that the two employees couldn't and wouldn't work on the trails - which is part of their job description - they wouldn't let anyone else do a "union job."

      So the trails are still crap, now two years later.
    • Re:stupid argument (Score:4, Insightful)

      by whereiswaldo (459052) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:57PM (#9669419) Journal
      volunteer work is causing unemployment for people who wish to do the same work for pay

      This one statement strikes Microsoft's fight dead in its tracks.

      You may find these quotes thought provoking:

      "Carry the battle to them. Don't let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive. And don't ever apologize for anything."
      -- Harry Truman

      "If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."
      -- Winston Churchill

      "Without a doubt, psychological warfare has proven its right to a place of dignity in our military arsenal."
      -- Dwight Eisenhower

      "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
      -- Napoleon Bonaparte

      "The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him."
      -- GK Chesterton
  • No Jobs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danielrm26 (567852) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:19PM (#9668576) Homepage
    It's true that while open source is taking off it will have many of the characteristics that Gates is describing, but ultimately all software needs skilled people to install it and maintain it. An entire infrastructure for a business, city, or government is not going to run itself and generate no jobs just because the development of the software itself was done for free.
  • Gates is right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:20PM (#9668581)
    You open source people of slashdot might not want to hear the truth, but open source software loses more often backwards compatibility than windows is. From libpng to gtk to the kernel, it is just not guaranteed that next month's version will be 100% compatible with the source you wrote 6 months or 3 months ago. For users this is bad, because MOST linux users do use the source to install apps. Windows has a much better track on binary and source compatibility, my company still uses a DOS program of the '80s working under XP. That's a good thing for business.

    Regarding jobs getting lost, I also agree. The problem is NOT as big as Gates says atm, but if OSS becomes much more popular in the future, it will be a problem for software engineers. You devalue your own profession.
    • Re:Gates is right (Score:5, Informative)

      by Waffle Iron (339739) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:38PM (#9668765)
      Windows has a much better track on binary and source compatibility, my company still uses a DOS program of the '80s working under XP.

      Your '80s DOS program will probably run fine under Linux as well. In both cases, the 16-bit environment runs in a VM.

    • Re:Gates is right (Score:3, Informative)

      by j1m+5n0w (749199)

      but open source software loses more often backwards compatibility than windows is. From libpng to gtk to the kernel, it is just not guaranteed that next month's version will be 100% compatible with the source you wrote 6 months or 3 months ago.

      While in some cases true, this is not always a bad thing. Interface changes allow progress. Linux would not be anwhere near where it is today if developers were afraid of breaking interfaces.

      For users this is bad, because MOST linux users do use the source to

  • Out-Source (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nwf (25607) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:21PM (#9668597)
    He's just affraid that if we move to open source, it will be harder to out-source (it's it's effectively distributed anyway) and Bill can't make any money off setting up fancy data centers where every user, while making $1/hr still has the latest $500/seat MS Office.
  • by FuzzyFurB (148573) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:23PM (#9668612) Homepage
    Open Source doens't guarantee upward compatability? Puhlease! Neither does Microsoft with their proprietary office suite. Didn't Office 97 break compatability with older versions forcing companies to upgrade ALL machines in their workplaces at the same time? Talk about a horrible leg to stand on!
    • by gid13 (620803) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:48PM (#9668861)
      Basically, what I think you're saying is that MS also doesn't guarantee upward compatibility, and I agree.

      It's also worth noting that when MS breaks compatibility, you're pretty much doomed because it's closed source. When something open source breaks compatibility, if there's a way to alter/filter/import data to make it fit, you at least have the options of writing code to do it yourself, or paying someone independent to write it.
  • Wait. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by labratuk (204918) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:23PM (#9668617)
    Objectively speaking for a moment.

    Surely he has just said that open source is more efficient.

    If fewer people are having to be employed to do something, that must mean that the process of sharing and having standards is working more efficiently. Surely that's more economical for a business, as they're having to fork out less for these things.

    What he's advocating is creating a false economy of software and 'technology' by having a hideously ineffective development and business process.

    Or is that an oversimplified concept of economics?
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:24PM (#9668624) Homepage
    I'm not even sure I understand what that means. I understand when something isn't backward compatible -- like when Windows XP can't run software written for Windows 95. But upward compatible? Is he talking about the failure of today's software to run on tomorrow's systems -- like how Windows XP won't run on Intel Nocoma chips?
  • In other news... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by britneys 9th husband (741556) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:24PM (#9668630) Homepage Journal
    The invention of cars killed jobs in the buggy-whip industry.

    The invention of email and corporate intranets killed secretarial jobs.

    Anti-smoking campaigns are killing jobs in the tobacco industry.

    Hybrid cars are killing jobs in the oil industry (or will in the future anyway).

    CD Baby threatens to kill jobs in the recording industry.

    Should I go on?
  • by amarodeeps (541829) <dave@dubitabl[ ]om ['e.c' in gap]> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:25PM (#9668641) Homepage
    ...that the company I'm working for now, The Ladders (theladders.com [theladders.com]) finds great $100k+ jobs (kind of ironic that) and provides a weekly newsletter, and we have used almost exclusively open-source software to grow our business. Yes, I'm dropping a plug, but I want to emphasize that open-source software definitely provides jobs rather than takes them away. This is a fallacy that needs to be corrected and understood by business people--you can build businesses with open-source, and a lot of times, you can't build them without it.
  • by Peter_Pork (627313) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:26PM (#9668643)
    ISS worms killed plenty of web businesses, unlike Apache. Did he count those jobs that remain safe with Apache and go to hell with ISS???

    Internet Explorer vulnerabilities make plenty of people hate computers, and stop using the Internet. What do you think having fewer customers mean??? More jobs???

    Improving computing and the Internet as a whole CREATES JOBS. Microsoft crap KILLS JOBS.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:28PM (#9668659)
    My own online store uses osCommerce, a GPL'ed commerce suite, I don't have the knowledge or resources to create my own online store, but here are these wonderful people who dedicate their time and energy to creating something useful that everyone who wants to set up an online store can use.

    To me, that's the benefit of open source, people getting together to make tools and software that can help everyone.

    Gates doesn't get it, because his software isn't really made to be used, it's made for future obsolecense so that people will buy the next version.
  • by FunWithHeadlines (644929) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:29PM (#9668676) Homepage
    He's just using classic FUD to drum up business for his dying business model. In fact, open source helps an economy. Oh sure, it doesn't help Microsoft, but that's not the only consideration for a national economy. To make a very extreme example, if a company had become massive and grossly successful by selling cocaine to toddlers, would we say, "Oh, we can't hurt their business model by pointing out the societal downsides of the model. I mean, look at how many jobs they create!" So just because Microsoft creates jobs, it doesn't mean their business model is necessarily right or good. Means and ends and all that.

    Open source helps an economy, especially a developing one. It helps people learn about their computers by giving them the tools to understand how to make them operate. It helps them grow tech skills. What, no paying programming jobs any more for them to take? Well sure there will be jobs. There are plenty of businesses that need in-house custom software (often built in conjunction with open source tools or foundations). Those programming skills learned will come in handy. Or perhaps they will join a growing software services company, where knowing how software works will prove most useful.

    The Microsoft model is to create an economy where people have to shovel money to them, and individuals don't get to see how their software really works. Yeah, they can get jobs programming yet another VB (sorry, C#...sorry, .NET) report for management. But it's not the only way to go. The open source way leads to an increasingly tech literate population, and creates its own jobs. And oh yes, in this model not all the money gets shoveled back to Redmond. That's why Microsoft is squawking, but that's only natural. Doesn't mean anyone has to listen to Bill, though. After almost three decades of his self-serving words, we know better.

  • by MikeCapone (693319) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [llehretleks]> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:30PM (#9668684) Homepage Journal
    Gates: "Open Source kills MY job."
  • by beforewisdom (729725) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:32PM (#9668710)
    The IT jobs in America that we read about being lost are lost due to companies like MS and IBM outsourcing their IT positions to India. However, Free(dom)/Open Source Software may truly be interfering with these companies by taking away market share in these developing countries. In short, some obscenely rich CEOs/Corporate Types/Investors who put put 100's/1000's of American famlies out of work may make a few less shekels in their moutains of profits. Cry me a river....... Steve
  • Oh that's rich! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:32PM (#9668711) Journal
    So hang on giving something away is wrong because good will donations of time and effort stop paid work from happening?

    Bill Gates and Microsoft are involved with a lot of charities. Should they stop contributing to them because the good will prevents people from going out and earning the money for themselves? By Bill's argument, Microsoft should never give away an educational copy of Windows or Office to a school or university - after all that's a copy of software a competitor could sell to that institution.

    But wait it must be okay, because they can write off their contributions for tax breaks. That's good for the economy.

    As far as I'm concerned, if someone wants to give away their time and effort they can do so and you just have to deal with it. You can't have it both ways.
  • by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1 AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:35PM (#9668741) Journal
    It does kill the job market for MCSEs.
  • Isn't it ironic? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar&gmail,com> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:37PM (#9668761) Homepage Journal
    Isn't it ironic that Internet Explorer was based on Mosaic, an open sourced web browser? Isn't it also ironic that Microsoft used BSD TCP/IP programs in Windows?

    Does Open Sourced Software kill jobs? Ask any Linux based web hoster if they killed any jobs when they chose an OSS operating system over Windows. Ask any Apache web server hoster if the OSS web server they chose killed any jobs. Notice that Linux and Apache software dominates the web servers out there according to Netcraft's survey. Thus we logically can conculde that OSS creates jobs based on the shear volume of Linux and Apache systems out there.

    Notice that most people who get outsourced or laid off are Microsoft Software users. Thus we can logicaly conclude that Microsoft Software kills jobs.

    So Bill Gates has it backwards, Microsoft Software kills jobs, not OSS.
  • by nchip (28683) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:38PM (#9668770) Homepage
    Do these messages sound contradicting:

    "Linux has a greater TCO than windows systems! use our windows systems and you need less admins and coders! And you don't need so well trained admins and coders, you can outsource the jobs!"

    "Linux and open source will take away your jobs!"

    Of course, Gates is just hoping that your Boss hears the first message and you (and the goverment) hear the second message.
  • Smart and evil?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John Seminal (698722) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:38PM (#9668774) Journal
    However, Gates stopped short at saying that Windows XP Starter Edition--available in Malaysia and Thailand in September--is Microsoft's attempt to stop the spread of Linux software and software piracy in the region.

    Gates is showing once and again that he is a smart guy who will take any advantage he can to get what he wants.

    I remember a settlement Microsoft made with some school district. But instead of sending a check to the school, Microsoft offered them computers with the windows operating system. By negotiating a settlement in such a way, it is like getting free advertising. Most people do not want to learn 2 or 3 operating systems, they just want one they know how to use. How many of those high school students went on to use Windows based PC's in college and beyond? I don't know the anwser, but I do bet some would have used Apple if they had Apple computers in their lab.

    I think the problem with Gates and Microsoft is they are unethical. It is one thing to make a product and sell it, another thing to use strong arm tactics to force people to use it. It has been said many times, but my local CompUSA and Circuit City only sell computers with Windows on them. And what is worse, my Sony Vaio laptop came with Windows, but not the CD to install it as I wish. Instead it reformats the hard drive into pre-determined partitions. And I can not pick what programs to install from that CD, it installs everything as it was when I first turned the laptop on. Getting some of that unwanted software off the PC was real work. Yuck.

    But there are things Gates can do to be more friendly. Don't force windows to want a whole drive all to itself. If I have drive, and want to have a small partition for linux, don't force windows to reformat that partition to ntsc or fat. Let it be. It is a pain to have to do everything after windows is installed.

    I think Bill Gates is obsessed with controlling the entire market share for computer operating systems, and now is moving into media control with his DRM technology and windows media player 9. What people really want is choice. What Windows does is take away choice.

    Also from the article, and this scares me:

    Earlier, Gates talked about the contributions Windows has made to the Asian economy. "Windows has opened up opportunities for computers and chips to be built in Asia. This will continue to be true for [such] software in providing high-paying jobs," he said.

    Can we expect many of these high paying jobs to leave the USA? Is this Gates master plan. Make the USA dependant on Windows based software, then move as much of the production outside the USA?

    Also:

    Gates said Microsoft is having "good dialogues" with Asian governments, one area being their loss of tax revenue "when people don't pay for software".

    Does this mean Gates will want some terrif imposed on all software, then work out some exemption for Microsoft? He has proven to be smart and creative in making thinks work out the way he wants it to, and he has proven to be unethical. I would not be suprised if he tried to stifle competition.

  • What jobs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dtfinch (661405) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:40PM (#9668795) Journal
    Microsoft employs about 55000 employees, most of them NOT programmers, and the ones that are barely see a fraction of the money that's earned off of their products. Open source helps to replace the overpriced commodity software that's created by a fraction of a percent of the world's developers and pulls in a majority of the world's software spending.

  • by BeerSlurpy (185482) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:41PM (#9668801)
    The maturation of microsoft's products in the late 90s lead to microsoft developers adding stupid bells and whistles (like extensive VB programming support in all MS products, yay viruses) that didnt add value to the software. Microsoft SHOULD have entered the maintenance phase with all of their desktop products about 5 years ago. There are probably 10-20k developers sitting around performing development work at MSFT that will not drive further sales.

    Meanwhile, Open source has slowly been catching up to where microsoft was 5-10 years ago. This would ordinarily be a devastating disadvantage, even for a software package that doesnt need to make money but the problem is that when microsoft's products matured, they also became commoditized- since microsoft's products havent become any more compelling in the past 7 years, microsofts existing products compete with the old ones and 7 year old open source software competes successfully as well.

    The end result of this is the "cost cutting" measures that microsoft is undertaking now. It will mean a lot less "new development" for microsoft products, and a lot more outsourced maintenance contracts to fix bugs in existing ones. The real cause to blame for unemployed microsoft developers is microsofts fear of breaking into new markets and trying different things to make use of those developers. They would rather defend the rotting carcass of Office and Windows than go off boldly in search of fresh meat.
  • by e6003 (552415) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:41PM (#9668802) Homepage
    Gates says "If you don't want to create jobs or intellectual property..." (emphasis added). What kinds of intellectual property are there, and what might be affected by open source?

    - Copyrights: open source software is still copyrighted as much as closed source software. He can't be talking about this sort of intellectual property.

    - Patents: can also apply equally well to open or closed source software - indeed, some people call for software patents to explicitly include source code showing how the claimed "invention" is implemented.

    - Trademarks: not really relevant; they're concerned with brand names and don't depend on if one chooses to share the underlying source code to a program or not.

    - Trade secrets. Ah. We might be onto something here! Yes, something isn't a secret if you share it openly. Gee whizz - who'da thunk that?!

    Yes, what Gates is saying is that you can't have trade secrets if you have open source software - only that's far too obvious a statement to make and any audience would see straight through it. So he uses the meta-FUD term "intellectual property" instead. What a sham. As with the RIAA and MPAA, what Microsoft really needs is a law that forbids circumventing an "effective" business model...

  • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:41PM (#9668804) Journal
    Open Source Kills Jobs

    Oh no! Poor Steve Jobs. We always knew Open Source would be his downfall, but could not have known it would literally kill him.
  • by multiplexo (27356) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:42PM (#9668811) Journal
    Pity him. Other countries have seen how vital software is and will be to their economies, some people in those countries are smart enough to realize that having such a critical sector of their economy controlled by the gnomes of Redmond is a bad idea. OSS and licenses such as the GPL offer you a way to get in on the ground floor of software development and if you have a stable of talented coders rapidly progress in the direction you need by leveraging the talents of other coders.

    Then of course there's the cost issue. Who the fuck can afford Microsoft licenses? Even American businesses, who have a lot more cash than Asian consumers have been bitching about the cost of MIcrosoft licensing, especially when it has become blatantly obvious to even the dimmest of PHBs that most new Microsoft products add little in the way of useful functionality but do succeed in introducing incompatible file formats and siphoning cash off to Redmond.

    Then of course there's Microsoft's arrogance in offering crippleware such as XP starter edition and XP home. Explain to me what the differences are between these products and XP pro again (other than registry hacks to turn features off, missing DLLs and different packaging). Explain to me why I can't buy a CD with an installable image at retail and have to purchase OEM copies of the OS or deal with Microsoft's fucking annoying upgrade copies. Explain to me what the new version of Office does that I couldn't do with Office 98. Fortunately for me my step-bro works at Microsoft, so I can get the software through him for cheap, other than this, or getting educational discounts I can't see how anyone affords buying Microsoft products or why anyone would continue to do so.

  • by eltoyoboyo (750015) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:49PM (#9668880) Journal
    "If you don't want to create jobs or intellectual property, then there is a tendency to develop open source. It is not something you do as a day job. If you want to give it away, you work on it at night," he said.

    Then I have RTFA for the third time... I am having trouble with the "killing" part. IMHO this reads as Gates saying: "People work on open source in their spare time as a hobby." Nobody has yet posted righteous indignation about their occupation being called something done in their spare time and not relevant to the economy.

    Plus the article was covering Gates' talk on open source and piracy. Clearly, with open source there is no such thing as piracy because you can do what you want with the software. It is when you try to sell the open source software (not present it as part of a service) that you get into trouble. I think we all get the diametric opposition part already.

    Finally, -Bill Gates bashed open source- surprise! Next article.
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:55PM (#9668933) Homepage
    Users of Open Source save money and are so able to spend money elsewhere. Thus there are less jobs in software companies but more jobs in software using companies. Since software people are highly paid there are probably more jobs created than are lost.

    Open Source results in jobs being transferred from Software companies to End user companies.
  • by jonman_d (465049) <nemilar&optonline,net> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:33PM (#9669214) Homepage Journal
    "Gates...when on to say that '[Open source] doesn't guarantee upward compatibility.'"

    He's right - it doesn't. I'd say it guarantees it evenly with the way Microsoft guarantees it - if you just happen to have the correct version of the correct software, you'll have upwards compatability. If you chose the wrong end of the fork, then you're screwed.

    On the other hand, Open Source, by definition, allows unlimited forking. And if there's a compatibility break between versions, you can be sure that someone, somewhere is going to start up a backwards-compatability fork, or write a backwards-compatibiltiy patch; if the problem is enough to bug you, it's probably enough of a problem to bug other people. And, if there's no backwards-compatibility fork available, you can always Do It Yourself, or put up a note on the proper mailing list, letting people know that the demand is out there, and asking if anyone else has the same need/desire.

    With propritary software, the user is basically under the company's control. Unless you're a huge corporation with massive buying power and enough pull in the management level of Microsoft, all you'll wind up with is a "You're screwed, buy our other newer, more expensive software."

    Overall, I'm pretty sure Open Source Software is more compatible, and that there's more old versions of software available to reduce the need for backwards compatibility.
  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:33PM (#9669217)
    The idea that open source software destroys the economy is not well thought out. The money that would have been spent on over priced software will now be spent on other things thus fueling different parts of the economy. The real loser is Microsoft; a company that has shown a tendency to destroy jobs and entire companies though the illegal and anticompetitive practices related to it's monopoly.

    What do I say? Tough shit! Adapt or die Microsoft! Open Source is good for the economy in general. It's just not good for YOUR economy!
  • by Greg@RageNet (39860) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:35PM (#9669237) Homepage
    Yeah, those evil open-source software companies are wrecking the industry. Companies should learn from Microsoft, and use the product bundling & dumping model instead. Look at all the jobs it created at Netscape.

    -- Greg

  • It is not a bad thing per se if jobs are eliminated. Open source software can be looked at as simply a technological improvement, with improved efficiency over proprietary software. Now, if this happens to eliminate the jobs of some proprietary developers, that is a good thing for the economy. Previously wasteful labor is no-longer being employed, so resources are being used more efficiently. The former-programmer must find a new job, doing something that the market values more highly than what he formerly did.

    For example, consider the following situation:

    Microsoft employs 100 people to work on Internet Explorer and all of its problems. These individuals work 40 hours a week and are paid $50,000 a year. All is well. Microsoft has a team which works on fixing problems in IE, the team-member get paid, and customers get a security update in IE every blue moon or so.

    Now, along comes another group, Mozilla. They give away source code to the gecko core and get a small group of volunteers to work on Phoenix for free. These individuals choose to do this in their spare time, off of the job. They produce a browser which is arguably superior to IE.

    Now, lets say that Phoenix drives IE out of the market, and Microsoft thus has to can it's IE project, meaning the workers get fired. Is this a bad thing? Well, obviously MS and their employees don't like it. But it is still good for society over-all.

    Previously, customers had to pay money to MS for a browser. Now, they don't. They can conserve the resources (money) that they would have spent on the browser, and spend it elsewhere, on their highest valued use.

    And what of Microsoft and the workers? Well, either they can make their product good enough that people will pay for it over a free alternative, or they have to eliminate the product-line or sell it off to whoever will buy it. What about the former MS employees working on IE? Well, it is unfortunate for them, but no-one has the right to be employed. Certainly, consumers in such a case would have demonstrated that they aren't willing to pay a higher price for an inferior product.

    If they are laid off, they can find jobs else-where, where their labor will go towards a use more highly valued by consumers than what they had been doing. This is simply the reallocation of labor from less highly-valued uses to more highly-valued uses, resulting in greater overall efficiency.

    If any programmer here is going to complain, I would ask you this: Given two computer-systems, both of the same quality in your estimation, would you buy the one that is priced higher or priced lower? The answer is you'd buy the one that's priced lower. Now, why would you expect anyone to pay more for a product of the same or lesser quality, when they can pay less for a product of the same or greater quality? It is hypocrisy to ask others to pay more money for inferior products.

    I wouldn't be surprised if next thing, Bill Gates is going to file lawsuite against FOSS developers. After all, they are undercutting their competitors, and this is an evil anti-competitive strategy. Of course, if they price their products at the same price, they can be accused of collusion; and heaven forbid if they price them higher, then they're accused of price-gouging.
  • by stealth.c (724419) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @05:00PM (#9669436)
    "If you don't want to create jobs ... there is a tendency to develop open source."

    What kind of jobs, Mr. Gates? Point-of-sale software programming jobs seems to be the only possibility--a mere fraction of programming jobs out there--which just happens to be the business that you are in. It diminishes Bill's field and invigorates the industries that have anything to do with customization, localization, and face-to-face service and support.

    "[Open source] doesn't guarantee upward compatibility or do that kind of integration [for seamless computing to work]."

    "We certainly will have open-source apps that compete with and that run on Windows. But when it comes to a guarantee or having someone who stands behind your software, [open source] is typically not something done in a capital approach."

    Hail, Prince of the Obvious! More obvious information: Microsoft doesn't exactly specialize in guarantees either. Open Source doesn't do all those things, but companies can. Bill's statment is like me saying that closed-source doesn't guarantee free croissants. Of course it doesn't, but Microsoft sure would if it meant keeping Linux out of Paris.

    As for the integration thing, he's right. Open Source environments don't integrate like Microsoft does. And is probably better off for it. Isn't that what got us into all this IE trouble in the first place? How frenzied integration is somehow an advantage is a mystery to me.

    He's stating a few half-truths and presuming that his fragment of the truth leads everyone to his MSFT-centric conclusions. He makes about as much sense as a Linux zealot might. His only advantage is that he knows the business vocabulary that will get the attention of the bureaucrats. That, and he's Bill Fucking Gates and what he says goes. Outside of Slashdot, the man is perceived as a technological messiah.

  • by DarkOx (621550) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @05:12PM (#9669502) Journal
    say that '[Open source] doesn't guarantee upward compatibility.'"

    There is no guarantee in the propriatary world that there will be upward compatibility. The fact that you can migrate you data to the latest and greatest or God for bid an other vendors product is completly the will of the original vendor. Sure most of the time there is an upgrade path but if a product is discontinued their may not be. The data storage might be binary and it would be a massive under takeing to reverse engineer that data. Look at all the effort that it has taken to be able to import a word doc with reasonable accuracy for example. At least with OSS you can look at the source code to your old app and probably use the file/data access code from it in your new app or simply to create something new and simple that can convert using that old code to parse and writeout back out to some better know format. There are all sorts of very valid reasons why a closed source proprietary solution might be better, Gates needs to focus on those instead of spreading out right lies. The problem he has of course is the vast majority of those good reasons are decreasing in value to the average user as skilled people are becomeing more availible and the barries to entry on large scale information systems is shrinking daily.
  • by e_AltF4 (247712) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @06:38PM (#9670114)
    "Open Source Kills Jobs"
    -- Bill Gates, 2004

    "You shouldn't get overly paranoid thinking that Microsoft's a broad competitor and it's not possible to work with us."
    -- Bill Gates, 1997

    "The Internet? We are not interested in it"
    -- Bill Gates, 1993

    "I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time."
    -- Bill Gates - OS/2 Programmer's Guide 1988

    "The next generation of interesting software will be made on a Macintosh,
    not an IBM PC."
    -- 1984

    "640 Kilobyte ought to be enough for anybody."
    -- Bill Gates, 1981

    "Microsoft programs are generally bug-free."
    -- Bill Gates, on code stability, from Focus Magazine

  • Compatibility? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BCW2 (168187) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @06:44PM (#9670146) Journal
    '[Open source] doesn&#146;t guarantee upward compatibility.

    If the last 7 versions of Word are 100% compatible, I'll kiss Gates ass on the Capitol steps during the Inauguration on Jan. 20, 2005.

    Lets revise .doc with every upgrade so the old versions can't red new files. Then everyone has to upgrade.
  • by ttfkam (37064) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @06:48PM (#9670172) Homepage Journal
    Although he failed to properly qualify it...

    Open Source kills [Microsoft] jobs.

  • by argoff (142580) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @07:10PM (#9670306)
    One time I attended a speech given by ESR, when he asked the programmers to raise their hands - almost everyone in the auditorium raised their hands, when he asked how many worked for a "commercial" software company rather than in house - I'd say less than 25% raised their hands. I think that says it all about the job picture right there.
  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @07:52PM (#9670565)
    OK, probably not much point posting this deep into a thread, but here goes:

    What the hell is wrong with losing jobs, so long as something is done to keep the general public's standard of living up? Everytime you lose a job to progress, that's less work that needs to be done. The problem with people is they can't think of a society in any other terms but economic. All anybody wants to know is how to get more money. Nobody ever asks the more important question behind that: how do we improve our standard of living?
  • by syousef (465911) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @08:07PM (#9670633) Journal
    ...on the basis they hurt the economy?

    Quick, stop everyone taking snapshots at a wedding because the wedding photographers will go out of business! Video cameras too! The MPAA is under threat! Movie sales will plummet as everyone watches home made flicks.

    Stop everyone from learning to paint, because it will starve already starving artists.

    Stop anyone from learning to cook, or cooking meals at home, because the chefs will go out of business.

    Every kid in a garage band, quick arrest them before they put pro musicians out of business. (Ok there are a few people who might want to stop the crappy garage bands granted).

    We need to license these things now before its too late! People may actually find fulfilment in their lives outside of work! Stop the madness.

    What's the argument here? That MS is so bad it can't stand competition from dedicated hobbyists?
  • by keith73 (653589) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @09:03PM (#9670936)
    If not for open source technologies, I would not have a job.

    Because of my exprience in Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl and various other technologies, I have a job at a company that uses these technologies exclusively. And the company is able to be competitive because it doesn't have to pay all of those licensing fees that would have to be paid if we used Windows Servers running IIS, ASP, SQL server, etc...

    And of course, the entire internet runs on technologies that are open to everyone, http, tcp/ip, ftp, ssl, etc... many businesses would not exist if not for open source technologies.

    Long live open source.

  • So why is it ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jc42 (318812) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @09:13PM (#9670993) Homepage Journal
    ... that the jobs I've had for the past 5 years or so have all been primarily developing software that runs on linux systems?

    Funny thing is that these jobs have been paid for mostly by non-US companies who are trying to get out from under the thumb of either IBM or Microsoft (or both). And they're hiring Americans like me to help them do it.

    A big selling point has been that N years from now I can guarantee that the software will still run and they'll still be able to read all their files. They've learned the hard way that this isn't always true with proprietary systems.

    And I can easily explain to them how they can verify that there are no hidden tricks (trojans, backdoors, etc) in my code or in any of the lower-level software. Neither my code nor anything in "the system" can be sending their data off to some stranger's data warehouse. Granted, they'll have to keep around a staff of unix/linux geeks, who will both study the code and monitor the appropriate online fora. But they don't need to hire as many such geeks as they have on site now to keep their IBM/MS stuff running, so even that's a win.

    Maybe eventually we'll see the day when all software has been written and no more is needed. But I suspect that day's still a long way off. And the world is growing more and more dependent on smaller and smaller computers to keep everything running.

    So for the forseeable future, they'll still need lots of people who understand that, no matter what managers or marketing people say, 2+2 is always 4, not 5 or 3.95 or something desirable. (Except when it's 3.99999999998 of course, but any true geek will understand that, too. ;-) You can't get software to work without a good understanding that computers don't respond to positive thinking or marketing, and such people will always be a tiny minority.

    So I'll predict that people with the twisted (i.e., logical) minds required by programming will continue to have jobs until long after all of us are gone.

    Of course, we may all have to move to India or China, as the patent system shuts down software development in the Western world.

  • by mabu (178417) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @09:39PM (#9671150)
    * Burger King announces burgers cooked on a griddle are inferior to flame broiled; increased consumption of griddle-cooked burgers will result in major job loss in "manufacturing sector"

    * Head of the republican national party criticizes John Kerry

    * Donald Trump names another building after himself

    * GAP spokesperson lauds the success of NAFTA

    * Bill O'Reilly accuses Michael Moore of being "un-American"

    * Humvee automaker claims proposed fuel consumption standands are a danger to society

    * Larry King interviews Martha Stewart's pool guy and asks the tough questions everyone's dying to know. Chlorine or Bromine?

    * Clear Channel Communications questions the integrity of smaller radio radio stations insisting, "They don't have the resources to report news according to established journalistic standards."

    * Consensus at 2004 annual meeting of Zoologists confirms: "Bears do shit in the woods."

  • "We certainly will have open-source apps that compete with and that run on Windows. But when it comes to a guarantee or having someone who stands behind your software, [open source] is typically not something done in a capital approach." - Bill Gates

    I'd like to ask the question: Will Microsoft guarantee its software in any way or provide indemnification to end users against claims of infringement?

    End-User License Agreement for Microsoft Software DCOM98 for Windows 98, version 1.3 [ ]

    SOFTWARE PRODUCT LICENSE

    The SOFTWARE PRODUCT is protected by copyright laws and international copyright treaties, as well as other intellectual property laws and treaties. The SOFTWARE PRODUCT is licensed, not sold. [ ]

    7. NO WARRANTIES. Microsoft expressly disclaims any warranty for the SOFTWARE PRODUCT. THE SOFTWARE PRODUCT AND ANY RELATED DOCUMENTATION IS PROVIDED "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OR NONINFRINGEMENT. THE ENTIRE RISK ARISING OUT OF USE OR PERFORMANCE OF THE SOFTWARE PRODUCT REMAINS WITH YOU.

    8. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. In no event shall Microsoft or its suppliers be liable for any damages whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of business profits, business interruption, loss of business information, or any other pecuniary loss) arising out of the use of or inability to use the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, even if Microsoft has been advised of the possibility of such damages. Because some states and jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion or limitation of liability for consequential or incidental damages, the above limitation may not apply to you.

    - http://www.microsoft.com/com/dcom/dcom98/eula.asp [microsoft.com]

    MASTER END-USER LICENSE AGREEMENT

    MSDN, THE MICROSOFT DEVELOPER NETWORK SUBSCRIPTION [ ]

    5. Microsoft Exchange Server (FOR BACKOFFICE SERVER VERSION 4.5 ONLY).[ ]

    e. DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES. The Limited Warranty referenced below is the only express warranty made to you and is provided in lieu of any other express warranties (if any) created by any documentation or packaging. Except for the Limited Warranty and to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, Microsoft and its suppliers provide the Product and support services (if any) AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS, and hereby disclaim all other warranties and conditions, either express, implied, or statutory, including, but not limited to, any (if any) implied warranties, duties or conditions of merchantability, of fitness for a particular purpose, of accuracy or completeness of responses, of results, of workmanlike effort, of lack of viruses, and of lack of negligence, all with regard to the Product, and the provision of or failure to provide support services. ALSO, THERE IS NO WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF TITLE, QUIET ENJOYMENT, QUIET POSSESSION, CORRESPONDENCE TO DESCRIPTION OR NON-INFRINGEMENT WITH REGARD TO THE PRODUCT.

    f. EXCLUSION OF INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, AND CERTAIN OTHER DAMAGES. TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, IN NO EVENT SHALL MICROSOFT OR ITS SUPPLIERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, INDIRECT, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF PROFITS OR CONFIDENTIAL OR OTHER INFORMATION, FOR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION, FOR PERSONAL INJURY, FOR LOSS OF PRIVACY, FOR FAILURE TO MEET ANY DUTY INCLUDING OF GOOD FAITH OR OF REASONABLE CARE, FOR NEGLIGENCE, AND FOR ANY OTHER PECUNIARY OR OTHER LOSS WHATSOEVER) ARISING OUT OF OR IN ANY WAY RELATED TO THE USE OF OR INABILITY TO USE THE PRODUCT, THE PROVISION OF OR FAILURE TO PROVIDE SUPPORT SERVICES, OR OTHERWISE UNDER OR IN CONNECTION WITH ANY PROVISION OF THIS EULA, EVEN IN THE EVENT OF THE FAULT, TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), STRICT LIABILITY, BREACH OF CONTRACT, OR BREACH OF WARRANTY OF

  • by YouHaveSnail (202852) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:45PM (#9671565)
    As a Mac/Unix programmer, I'd love to find a job in or around Seattle. But for obvious reasons, almost everything up there is Windows-oriented. As far as I can tell, jobs for someone with my set of skills are few and far between.

    From my point of view, it's Microsoft that's bad for the job market.
  • by Zip In The Wire (701259) on Monday July 12, 2004 @12:48AM (#9672125)
    If Bill wants to stop open source, he should hire away the open source programmers who have proven their abilities.

    I've always thought that setting out to design and code up a project from thin air is a big risk. Much better to find an open source project that is nearly what you want, and hire the team who produced it to turn it into the product you want.

    A viable open source project already has most of the risk removed because you know it works and you know it's wanted.

    This would solve the problem caused by the two opposing forces; companies like microsoft who want to charge for software, and programmers who have too much time on their hands, who write open source projects to add to their portfolio.

    Face it, a lot of open source projects are started by programmers just looking to get some credibility and get a real job. Everyone has to have an incoming for food, shelter and whatever.

  • by soccerisgod (585710) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:38AM (#9672310)

    ... if you don't think about it.

    I'm a developer running my own business, so In a manner of speaking I do not have a job, not being employed by anyone. So perhaps he's right ;)

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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