Innovation Loses If Open Source Wins

As I write this, I’m getting ready to leave for Comdex, where I’ll moderate a panel on the importance of Microssoft’s .NET framework. On the panel will be a bunch of folks representing Oracle, Apache and Microsoft.

To help me keep the peace among participants who rarely agree with each other, Laura DiDio from the Yankee Group will be providing the analyst perspective so I can just mediate — I mean moderate. It starts at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 19th. If you’re there, stop by. I’m expecting it to be rather lively.

Speaking of lively, one of the things I have to do on a regular basis is what-if analysis. In this kind of analysis, you make the assumption that something that is possible actually happens, you describe the future world that results, and then you develop a strategy to deal with that outcome. It’s actually quite a bit of fun.

Recently, I had the chance to do this with the assumption that Microsoft had failed and the world had embraced open-source software.

What If Open Source Won?

In that world, which I profiled around the 2010 timeframe, revenues and jobs had long ago left North America and much of Western Europe. Software jobs and positions largely had moved to the Third World because of lower labor rates in emerging nations.

R&D dollars for software projects had mostly evaporated, and innovation was occurring — much as it does in the white-goods markets — over very long periods of time and primarily in hardware. In this future services-based world, there appeared to be little incentive to fund software improvements outside of security projects.

In 2010, in the world in which open source had won, software engineers and programmers also were in oversupply and had become unionized, effectively preventing any attempt by the current developed world to take back the revenue without direct government intervention.

From a world perspective, 2010 was generally a better place with more balanced trade policies among countries, but the existing software industry and the United States clearly had paid a significant price to get there.

If we extend the what-if speculation forward in time, we eventually return to a period in which hardware vendors, once again, are proprietary. Granted, this takes us to about 2020, but the core assumption here is that once a central power like Microsoft is removed, hardware vendors go back to favoring differentiation over sharing, and they eventually return to the pre-Microsoft world that appears closer to the natural state.

Open Source Kills Innovation

What this exercise creates is the assumption that open-source software kills software innovation because it effectively, over time, kills the funding for it. Much of the innovation we have today comes from proprietary companies.

Microsoft — despite beliefs to the contrary — is generating a disproportionate share of these efforts today, largely because of the budget cuts other firms have made.

In addition, Microsoft continues to fund large institutional research programs — both domestically and abroad. Were they to vanish suddenly, the revenues would not flow to entities that would pick up where Microsoft left off.

I’ve often found that people don’t consider the full repercussions of major changes; instead, they get so excited about the change itself that they forget to plan for the outcome. To make sure this doesn’t happen, those who are driving for change also must address the negative aspects of that change to mitigate those negatives — which brings to mind the SCO-IBM issue.

Festival of Subpoenas

One thing that is perfectly clear is that — in a future open-source software world — attorneys will flourish, especially if the recent spate of subpoenas is any indication. SCO has served Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman, Stuart Cohen of the Open Source Development Labs, Transmeta legal counsel John Horsley and Novell.

I’m guessing the Transmeta subpoena is for documentation during the time Linus worked there. Win or lose, Transmeta definitely doesn’t need that distraction right now. With the exception of Transmeta, the subpoenas seem to be a result of the normal course of building a foundation of testimony and evidence — with the likely hostile witnesses — before the trial actually begins and helping to prepare for the pretrial phase of the action.

IBM, on the other hand, has served BayStar Capital (which invested US$50 million in SCO), Deutsche Bank Group (which issued a favorable financial report on SCO), the Yankee Group (which suggested IBM might lose the fight) and Renaissance Ventures (which invested in SCO). This series of subpoenas looks punitive to me because I can’t figure out how any of these parties are directly pertinent to the case.

None of them appears to be an expert on the code in question. They weren’t involved with the contract in any way that I can see, and appear to have simply done things that might have helped SCO get funding or positive press. IBM could be trying to better understand the why behind these companies’ positions, but one would think that would be better done in a more casual way rather than with attorneys present.

Depositions can be incredibly time-consuming and painful, and if this is an effort to silence those that believe SCO has a case, it could be effective. I find it interesting that if Microsoft had used a similar tactic, we’d have cried foul very loudly.

I think this is another example of that pesky “free speech” thing that often only seems important when someone is trying to silence a voice you agree with. I do think, however, that the risk to IBM is very high and says something about what the company, internally, thinks of its chances of winning.

The Impact on IBM

Why this is interesting is that SCO appears to be attempting to prepare for trial, while IBM appears to be trying to destroy SCO’s ability to sustain the fight. With SCO’s legal team still on contingency, it still looks to me like SCO is more confident of winning in court than IBM is.

What is also interesting is that IBM appears to be taking an excessive amount of risk with these actions. There is a rule that says you shouldn’t attack anyone who buys ink by the barrel. The Yankee Group, which is owned by Reuters, has several analysts who are broadly used by the press.

Deutsche Bank was the pivotal firm during the HP merger approval process, and the company is considered one of the powers in the financial industry. For some time, there has been a debate among financial analysts about whether IBM’s valuation should be adjusted to better reflect its increasing reliance on its services business. Linux is clearly a services business.

Analysts as a group — whether industry or financial — don’t like to feel that any company can threaten their objectivity. Of late, they are particularly sensitive to this issue — and for good reason. There is a good chance, depending on how IBM handles the SCO issue, that one of the firms could take extreme exception to this approach and change its position relative to IBM’s valuation or product set.

Personally, I’m not convinced that the potential benefit of this approach is in line with the risk, but having been critical about IBM’s unwillingness to take risks in the past, I have to admit this one took some guts. One thing is for sure: Regardless of how it turns out, this fight undoubtedly will make history and give us something to argue about for years to come.

Rob Enderle, a TechNewsWorld columnist, is the Principal Analyst for the Enderle Group, a company founded on the concept of providing a unique perspective on personal technology products and trends.


  • Lets leave emotions aside; do you know that your so called "opinions" are published using an open source server with an open source SSL implementation (Server: Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.8.9 OpenSSL/0.9.6)?
    I don’t think that you’re genuine in what you said. You’re the one who visits Microsoft headquarters (and probably get free "goodies" from them)
    ECT should be looking for more objective columnists.

    • While I begin to suspect that these comments are
      irrelevant to Mr. Enderle, he was quite successful
      at driving people out of the woodwork. I have a
      couple links I’d to share with my fellow woodwork
      evacuees, on the chance they’d not yet seen them:
      http://snurl.com/3178 , listing "key Microsoft
      products & technologies invented by others" and
      http://snurl.com/3179 , Netcraft’s analysis of
      technewsworld.com’s server (Apache with PHP and
      Perl, running on Linux – perhaps Mr. Enderle
      should quit in protest and only contribute to
      sites he feels give innovation a chance).

      • "…IBM’s supoenas were issued in response to a lack of discovery on the part of SCO."
        More likely they were issued to find evidence for IBM’s countersuit. Just what did SCO tell those analysts & investors that they could come away with such a blatently false viewpoint?
        Evidence of intentional deception will at the very least aid IBM’s countersuit, and better may result SCO’s abbetters (DB, Yankee group et al) being caught up in the resulting SEC fraud charges.

        • You’ve hit the nail on the head. Lets look at innovation directly. There’s really two types of innovation. Incremental, and ground breaking. Corporate R&D typically doesn’t focus on ground breaking innovations because the return on investment tends to be poor, instead incremental innovations are proven money makers. Observe the incremental innovations in regards to moving text in a word processor. You used to need to block the text you want to move then specify the insertion point. It was cumbersome, so the idea of a buffer, where text could be transferred to temporarily as it moved. Later the idea was refined to the clipboard, which can not only move text (via cut-paste), but also copy, and handles everything from text to images. Ground breaking research tends to come from individuals and educational institutions because there’s little or no pressure to bring about a marketable product, the researcher is free to research things that may be a hit, or a miss. If it’s 9 misses to a hit, that’s okay, because it was a learning experience anyway. Ask yourself how many things we use today came from educational research originally.

          • > There
            > is a good chance, depending on how IBM
            > handles the SCO issue, that one of the
            > firms could take extreme exception to
            > this approach and change its position
            > relative to IBM’s valuation or product set.
            Read between the lines about what Enderle is saying: that "analysts" positions depend on IBMs treatment of Analyst Firms rather than their position being an objective reflection of IBMs worth. In other words, analysts are either lying now and if IBM doesn’t behave they will start being honest or they are being honest now and will start lying if IBM doesn’t behave. In any event, how could you trust an analysts report if it doesn’t depend objectively on IBMs financial prospects.
            So according to Enderle, you can’t trust analysts to be objective. Well, as an analyst himself, he ought to know. I suppose it would be wise to take into account who is kissing up to him and who is pissing him off and read his reports with an appropriate dose so skeptisism.

          • (yeah, I’m talking to myself at this point)
            While I don’t believe that Microsoft has been an
            important innovator (see http://snurl.com/332a in
            addition to my previous pointer) I don’t believe
            they’ve just been leeches. And, as Mr. Enderle
            implies, they have started to fund some
            interesting researchers (Conal Elliott and Simon
            Peyton Jones, to name my two favorites. And they
            picked up Rick Rashid quite awhile ago.)
            IBM didn’t invent virtual memory or the personal
            computer, but a lot of (non-geeky) people were
            left with the impression that they did. The
            computer press used a wonderful term for this
            phenomenom – they would say that IBM had
            legitimized VM or the PC. Which, essentially,
            meant they’d made them acceptable to suits.
            (And, to be fair, IBM invented quite a few things,
            but wasn’t always the first to turn an idea they’d
            invented into a commercially successful product,
            partly for fear of cannibalization (a fear which
            they’ve mostly overcome of late))
            I think Microsoft kind of occupies this position
            now. They legitimize or commercialize things more
            often than they invent things. They round out
            feature sets, do some integration work, document
            stuff and ABOVE ALL market things to the point of
            mindshare saturation. This is not nothing. Some
            of it’s hard work. But most of it’s not

          • Nobody in the industry thinks SCO has a case. The only people that cheerlead for them are analysts like Enderle. Put two and two together.

          • I’m willing to give DB and Yankee Group the benefit of a doubt. In particular, Laura DiDio claims that SCO showed her evidence (the same evidence IBM can’t get SCO to produce) of IBM copying into Linux. It may be that they’ve been lied to, and will have lawsuits against SCO themselves when the truth comes out.

          • > I seem to recall that he prediced SCO had a
            > 55 – 65% chance of victory over IBM. I even
            > have the article archived in case it disappears.
            > We’ll see how that plays out, shall we?
            But I wouldn’t put the odds at zero. As we’ve
            sometimes seen, cases are not always decided on
            (what a geek as opposed to a lawyer would call)
            technical matters. Legal technicalities or
            political influence may also weigh in a decision.
            And, as the dude from Forbes points out, Canopy
            Group has a much better record of making money
            in litigation than they do making money from
            products and services. While I don’t think SCO’s
            chances are very good, AM happy to think that
            they aren’t and would love to write off SCO
            entirely, I don’t feel that I can do so.

          • …aren’t all wannabies. Lots just learn how to program Visual Basic for these less intelligent/irritating people in power since it’s what they want to see on a CV. Personally, I prefer almost any other language I’ve come accros to visual basic (even the one’s I’ve only glanced at) but nonetheless I’m learning VB so that I have a better choice and idea of what tools I have avaliable…and it’ll look good on my future CV.
            I’m nit-picking, I know 😉

          • (this has become my spot for collecting these
            items – not entirely unreasonable as a major theme
            of the article is Microsoft as an engine of
            Not only is MS Windows NT rather transparently
            based on Dave Cutler’s earlier work for Digital
            (http://snurl.com/332a), but that nifty terminal
            server feature was licensed from Citrix:
            http://snurl.com/46al http://snipurl.com/46an
            And of course, much more recently, Microsoft had
            to steal the idea of offering a reward for finding
            the mydoom author from SCO 🙂

  • Mr. Enderle’s contention that funding for innovative software will dry up if software all becomes free and open source is untested and based on faulty assumptions.
    A brief history is in order here. Until the 1970s software was not "commercial" in the present sense of the word. Systems like Unix were developed in universities and research labs (Bell, in the case of Unix and C). The commercialization craze hit in the early 80s with the popularization of personal computers like the Apple.
    The Unix model of software development was one of many individuals contributing their ideas; Unix today is a collection of many useful utilities written by many different people. Variants such as BSD had their ideas merged back into AT&T’s main version. Linux inherits this worthy mantle of group innovation today, though it is largely a rewrite by Linus and friends.
    It is a myth that software is a competitive marketplace. In fact, because of software’s very nature, the market tends to converge on the single best implementation of a tool. In the 80s it was Lotus 1-2-3, dBase III, and MS-DOS. Today, it’s Office and Windows. People make more money when they all share the same platform and file formats; even if Wordperfect is better, even if OS/2 Warp was more innovative, there was no compelling financial reason to switch.
    Today, although Microsoft is king of the roost on mass desktops, Linux and friends are making inroads because they represent a better standard than Microsoft’s. The windowing systems on Linux are more innovative than Microsoft Windows; the office suite Star/Open Office uses a much more convenient XML format for its files, and Mozilla browser just keeps getting better while Internet Explorer has sat there for four years.
    The changing of the guard has come again and this time we will all benefit from lower costs, more stable systems, more innovation at the grassroots level, and a more pleasant user experience. It may very well take until 2010 for the changeover to occur, but we will then see a tremendous flowering of innovative young companies building useful new tools on the solid Linux platform while old guard, entrenched fuddy-duddies like Microsoft shrink into irrelevance.

  • My counter example would be the Internet. Every major protocol/data stream existed as open source before the Internet was commercialized(in 1994 or 1995). Computer vendors, even Micorsoft, all had their own network standards which have died because one big network is much more interesting than lots of little ones. There are a lot of companies that have made money supporting open network standards based on free software. You could even argue Microsoft has, I know Cisco has.

  • "In that world, which I profiled around the 2010 timeframe, revenues and jobs had long left North America and much of Western Europe."
    Bob, this will be because silly patent and copyright law, monopoly protection law like the DMCA, and attitudes like yours will have forced technical innovation to Asia. Something I’ve been saying for quite a while. China won’t play these games. It’s odd that those of us who are trying to protect basic liberty in the U.S. are increasingly depending upon China to do the job for us.

  • If you models are correct, then you wouldn’t mind sharing the base assumptions, will you?
    Scenario Planning is as much art as it is science, but if your base assumptions are correct, a scenario planning session would come to similar conclusions.
    So, give us your base assumptions, and the guiding trends that you used.
    Then we can decide for ourselves if your scenario is relevent.

  • I do not think that attorneys will flourish if OS wins. And maybe analysts will have a harder time too.
    Microsoft (and other proprietary software vendors) are often paying analysts for their services — the Open Source community is not! So why bite the hand that feeds you… Hopefully the majority of analysts are decent, honest, and conscientious, but we might expect a certain bias towards the proprietary software vendors.
    The Open Source community used to be about "scratching a programmers itch", and people will still have bright ideas even if they are not paid for them. Now there are several big companies supporting their efforts. Most often this is because Open Source software can add value to their products — a win/win situation.
    Microsoft have never invented anything that has radically changed IT towards the better. If you look at http://research.microsoft.com/research/projects/ you will find some project with scientific merit, but you will also find projects about making flashy photo albums. Innovation my A**!

  • Rob needs to take a look at his perceived relevance in the overall scheme of computer software. Some people have a talent that they are born with and hopefully they realize their talent and potential and do great things with it. Some people have a talent that leads them to become great thinkers and problem solvers who just might get a kick out of programming(a talent that just became available in the last??? 40 years). Great programmers, usually are some of the sharpest persons in the world…referring to C programmers in general, not the cut and past visual basic wannabees…although visual prog.do serve a purpose. Since these programmers a so intelligent they usually have a hard time dealing with less intelligent or intelligent but irritating people that sometimes get placed in controlling positions of businesses. This means that many times, the less intelligent programmers get hired and stay on longer at software companies and eventually become the predominate associates at software companies. the really intelligent programmers have gotten tired of dealing with all the idiots at these companies and have moved on to other engineering fields but may still get a kick out of programming and thats how open source software grows. Remember, there’s no such thing as an original thought. Software is not like manufacturing, nearly everyone can think of a way to do some task and be able to write a program that can perform the task…but it takes a great programmer to make the program perfect and concise and implement tricks that may make the program even faster or better…well enough! Hopefully you understand where I went with this point of view. So where do you fit in Rob?

  • I agree with virtually all of the above comments that try to explain to Rob Enderle that he is not dealing with an ignorant reader community, that he needs to do his homework better, and that careful reading of the Groklaw site would probably improve his understanding of why very curious financial trails have lead to the IBM subpoenas that Mr Enderle thinks are punitive.
    I would add that I AM sure that the phrasing of Mr Enderle’s article is very deliberate and has succeeded wonderfully in its intent: he now has a quantity of angry or very concerned (and often very well reasoned) replies from a large number of people. However these replies are useless. None will change Mr Enderle’s mind and why should he ? He now has sufficient material for a marvellous blast at ‘rabid zealots and supporters of Linux and open source software’.
    Well done Mr Enderle – an excellent and well constructed article almost breathtaking with its mostly unsupported FUD – but very beautifully written. My heartiest congratulations on a perspective that can only be envied for its thorough removal of all of the facts behind the scenes that explain what is really going on. However, when you finally pen your reply to all of these comments, do at least express your gratitude to their authors: if you didn’t have such well informed people writing back to you to try to explain your multiple errors, your next attack on open source supporters would be so much harder.

  • Not for nothing.. but how exactly has MSFT innovated?
    They bought DOS, IE(mosaic), NTFS.. cloned Citrix, got the GUI somewhere else as well..
    So what exactly have they innovated themselves?
    Ah yes, the SPoF. The Registry. Point taken.
    Sure, one can argue for the benefit of a dictator, but do the costs outweigh the benefits? When it comes to standardization, one should really thank IBM, not MSFT IMHO.. it was their open x86 architecture that made it possible, no? There’d be no clones without that. MSFT certainly made Wintel the platform, but is that a good thing? Sparc/Solaris was on 64bit years ago.. we’re just now (barely) getting there on Wintel. Is that really progress??? Linux can already do things Windows cannot.. like run super computing clusters of hundreds or thousands of nodes. Or act as core routers running BGP & OSPF (via innovative open source projects like Zebra)
    While MSFT has been dictating what to do.. Opensource in the meantime has been answering all sorts of calls from clients they have not. Network management (Nagios, Big Brother, etc), monitoring (MRTG, RRDtool), IDS (Snort) all sprang from nowhere.. someone’s bright idea unencumbered by beaurocracy and proforma sales forecasts. Apache, the most used webserver – also opensource (and a whole lot more secure!). When you profiled "the world of 2010", did you consider any of this? Further, to ignore the progress of the OS movement is to ensure one’s peril. Look at the list of the top 500 fastest servers on earth.. Linux is slowly taking over the list.. It has many advantages and innovations of its own which you either have ignored or discounted. It runs on darn near anything from PDA’s to mainframes, is not a resource hog (eg: bloatware) and is very stable. Windows fails on all 3 of those. (runs on limited platforms, is a major resource hog and IME is not nearly as stable as other OS’s out there such as OS/2, Netware, Solaris, Linux) despite all the resources in the world. And yes, I work with all 5 of them on a daily basis. Think of the capital freed up to spend on projects when we don’t have to replace our server hardware every 3 years.. what kind of positive effect could that have??
    Innovation is not a profit driven thing.. just look at the Pharma industry. The big firms follow the money and develop one allergy medicine after another while low rent diseases continue to kill. In 2010 I bet your forecast has a lot of Malaria deaths.
    MSFT follows the money trail as well – not the idea trail. OS has no such limitations. It is the freeing of innovation, not the death of it.
    Think about it.

  • Your "what-if" analysis seems rather skewed. What-if, OSS makes it easier and cheaper to innovate?
    What-if OSS gives developing countries a chance to compete in the worlds software markets?
    What-if microsoft embraced the open-source development model? Would you still champion microsoft?
    You need to read groklaw.net. And i don’t just mean the SCO claims.
    If you want to be recognised and respected as an analyst rather than a microsoft marketer then i’d suggest you properly analyse and then counter analyse and take in all the facts (not just the one’s that agree with your own narrow opinion). Personally I’d hate to see microsoft completely go out of business since I beleive corporations have a right in the software business but I’d also like to see OSS get a fair share.
    It’ll be interesting to see how the whole SCO vs IBM lawsuit plays out and what happens afterwards.
    Again, go read all the documents on groklaw.net so you can write a less opinionated article on the issue.

  • Rob,
    I think you’re missing something fairly basic whenever you write about the SCO case: The open source community is self-organizing. That means we’re already studying the case at a very deep and detailed level. If you aren’t reading all the papers on the case, (available at http://www.groklaw.net) including SCO’s SEC filings, then you are probably less qualified to comment on the SCO case than most of your readers. It’s obvious from your comments that you haven’t read either of IBM’s Motions To Compel, or any of SCO’s many pleadings which request delays in the case, or any of the several SCO pleadings which request the judge’s approval for a "fishing expedition" into areas of IBM’s conduct for which they have not developed any independant evidence.
    It is also clear from your comments about IBM’s subpeonas that you haven’t been following the financial end of the case, though the action here is, admittedly, more subtle.
    For myself, I study the case every day. I read everything on Groklaw including the comments, which are a good source of URLs for further research. (Also, a couple of lawyers are now commenting at Groklaw, as well as many technical people.) I also search google news for new stories on SCO. I follow their stock price and read their SEC filings. I’ve even attempted some independant research. The important thing to realize here is that I’m not uncommon. I suspect that many of your readers follow a similar routine.
    So when you don’t do your research, we spot it right away. We know what you haven’t read (or possibly what you deliberately aren’t reporting,) and we have a fairly good idea of what you HAVE read, because you echo it in your writing.
    In other words, you’re dealing with a VERY informed audience which knows exactly how little you know/understand about the case.
    That’s why you keep getting letters like this one.

  • As has been shown by the ability of open source
    software to catch up with proprietary software
    it is a more efficient model than the proprietary
    one. At least from the perspective of any individual company.
    In a proprietary software model to make use of an invention you have to clone your competitors software stack up to the point where that invention applies. In a free software model you can just reuse everything up to the point of your invention.
    The one thing that is appearent from watching any moderately successful open source project is that
    the software quickly reaches the local optimum of where it’s code base can go. All of the useful features that are easy to implement get implemented.
    As for funds drying up I really don’t see it. The ultimate source for any funding comes from people with a need. Most of the people writing software are people trying to solve in house problems. And it doesn’t matter where those
    people are located or how much they are being paid it is the in house problems that matter, and except for working smarter the AM ount of work to
    be done is fixed.
    problems that matter.
    Working smater AM ounts to figuring out how to leverage open source software and let other people do some of your development and testing effort for you. Especially in a world dominated
    by open source software.
    As long as business happens and businesses change
    they will have unique problems that need solutions. Except for economic downturns I don’t
    see that changing. So the funding for software development will remain pretty much indefinitely.
    As long as people have problems there is motivation to fix them. And that is what invention is all about fixing problems in a new way. So as long as people have problems there will be inventions.
    The only place I possibly slowing down without Microsoft is the desktop software infrastructure. For the desktop software infrastructure to slow down and reach a local optimum is probably a good thing. Then people can use their brain cells for something other than how does the GUI work this week.

  • Its clear that Mr. Enderle has no real exposure/understanding of open-source software. He predicts that software innovation will die. Perhaps he hasn’t noticed the nature of 90%+ of open-source software today is horizontal/infrastructure type software like operating systems, services and programmer tools – things that are well-studied (ie. few trade secrets) and not major profit-centers for any other company outside of Microsoft.
    Vertical software such as advanced databases (e.g. Oracle and DB/2 on Linux), P.O.S software or other specialized apps will/can be closed source and profitable.
    I see the commodization/free infrastructure software as improving the conditions for innovation. What about start-ups/researchers who can’t afford forking out thousands for properitary systems and/or customized systems (e.g. Tivo, %99 of all universities on the planet)? I won’t even get into the many strings to any MS unversity deal.
    Free infrastructure will only foster exciting innovation in vertical sectors. This is like how our government recognizes that subsized basic physical infrastrucutre is vital to our economic interests.
    And as far a IP discussions ago, clearly open-source violations are easy to spot. Is there any proof that proprietary IP violations occur less frequently?

  • Yes, Rob, it must be that IBM is trying to bully them, and it has nothing to do with IBM’s counterclaims against SCO, which I will duplicate here.
    BM’s Amended Counterclaims Against SCO
    I. SCO’s Scheme
    50. SCO devised a scheme to profit from the Unix assets that it acquired from Original SCO, though those assets were in no way developed by SCO. Although most, if not all, of the AT&T Unix technology that SCO purports to own is generally known, available without restriction to the general public or readily ascertainable by proper means, SCO undertook to create fear, uncertainty and doubt in the marketplace in regard to SCO’s rights in and to that technology.
    51. Recognizing that there is little value in its Unix rights, SCO did not limit its scheme to that technology. Rather, SCO devised and executed a plan to create the false perception that SCO holds rights to Unix that permit it to control not only all Unix technology, but also Linux — including those aspects generated through the independent hard work and creativity of thousands of other developers and long distributed by SCO itself under the GPL.
    52. SCO undertook to carry out its scheme by, AM ong other things, (a) bringing baseless legal claims against IBM and threatening to sue other companies and individuals, (b) conducting a far-reaching publicity campaign to create the false and/or unsubstantiated impression that SCO has rights to Unix and Linux that it does not have and that IBM and others have violated SCO’s rights and (c) otherwise seeking to condition the market to believe that SCO has rights to Unix and Linux that it does not have and cannot properly enforce…."
    Gosh, in that context, it looks like IBM might actually have a REASON to subpoena all those people. Part of their case might even hinge on the testimony these people could offer about SCO’s conduct. But, no, what AM I thinking, IBM is just a big bully to poor innocent SCO, who has never done anything wrong.

  • here is His reply:
    Sorry you feel that way. Actually it was rewritten several times and it
    wasn’t rushed. No point in being angry though. Have a better week.
    To what I wrote Him:
    I’m sorry but I just had to tell you that the comments contained in this article Have angered me more than pretty much any article I’ve ever read!
    This article is complete fabulation only fabricated to put fear in the unknowing readers mind without stating a single fact based in reality.
    It’s about as accurate as writing that in 2010 ghosts are going to come out of computers and eat your soul and kill your cat!
    It looks and probably WAS written late, in the last minute, without even
    30 seconds of research except MAYBE glancing over some headlines without even trying to read the text. I fail to understand how any editor would dare publish such a piece of incompetent garbage. All you have to do is read 2 or 3 articles written by competent people and maybe glance at the actual court documents (witch are all available online) to realise that every single
    statement in your article is completely false, completely baseless and completely ignorant!
    If you’d have been a student you’d have been failed. If you were my employee, I’d fire you.
    The first thing about predicting trends
    and providing perspetcives like your site claims you do is get some facts.Find out what’s hapening right now so that you can deduce what’s going
    to happen lator.
    And on this one, you certainly failed in that d partment. And it angers me that lazy ignorant, incompetent and very very one-sided people like you are given a platform to speak on. You certainly don’t deserve one, and we,as
    information seekers certainly deserve better.

  • Hi Rob, I read with interest your ‘what-if’ analysis . However I didn’t really follow some of your reasoning.
    Why will funding dry up if open-source "wins"? From my understanding, there are a large number of businesses (like IBM, Novell) and governments (China, Japan, etc) who are investing heavily into open source software at the moment. Is there a reason why you believe this would change?
    Rob, I have a request for you. Could you do a ‘what-if’ analysis article for the other extreme side of the argument? What-if a proprietry software company "wins" and monopolises almost all software development. What would happen to the software landscape/economy/innovation in that situation?
    I would be very interested to hear your views and ideas in that scenario.

  • Hey Rob, where’ve you been? First of all, open source has already lost (Did you read the Red Hat announcement?), the tech jobs have already been exported to the far east and the few that are left are firmly in the grip of the H1B crowd (who consequently can’t be unionized).
    Usually, innovations get crushed by either corporate acquisition (seems they learned by watching what the record industry does to new artists) or litigation (Remember Napster?) before it sees the light of day (while they try to work out a way to fit them into antiquated business models).
    With all due respect Rob, your article was very good, but it seems you got all the players mixed up and your prognostication was more like a view into the present.
    By the way, one last thing. Open source and free aren’t the same thing (correct me if I’m wrong but your article seems to suggest this). Perhaps you should clarify this in one of your future articles by using the terms Microsoft and Non-Microsoft.
    !! No Flame Intended !!

  • "Why this is interesting is that SCO appears to be attempting to prepare for trial, while IBM appears to be trying to destroy SCO’s ability to sustain the fight. With SCO’s legal team still on contingency, it still looks to me like SCO is more confident of winning in court than IBM is."
    Why is SCO still stalling?
    Why has IBM issued 2 motions to compel?
    What exactly is SCO suing IBM over anyhow?
    What happened to SCO’s MIT "experts"?
    Does Rob Enderle forget that many technical people actually have been following this case and will use his "predictions" against him when SCO inevitablly loses? The great thing that SCO has done by digging the hole they are in is that a lot of "analysts" have followed them into this hole. When the hole is filled up, as it must be, perhaps we can get some competent people to replace the bodies burried within.
    I seem to recall that he prediced SCO had a 55 – 65% chance of victory over IBM. I even have the article archived in case it disappers. We’ll see how that plays out, shall we?

  • Any impartial reading of SCO’s incredible hedging, bad faith in the matter of providing discovery would show, factually and unequivocally, who is stalling and who wants to go to trial. IBM has asked, time after time after time, for SCO to show WHICH CODE THEY CLAIM IS INFRINGING. SCO’s reply? "Here’s all of Linux. It’s in there somewhere." For Enderle to conclude that it’s SCO who "wants to go to trial" on this basis is absurd.
    A similar pattern of evasion is evident in the Redhat trial.
    The question is — is Enderle being malicious, or ill-informed? Has he truly, truly not read the court documents, or read them and misunderstood them so thoroughly — or does he have an ulterior motive?

  • My GOD! What did you have for breakfast that day?!!!!
    Microsoft is NOT the main driver for developement and innovation. It’s ONLY the main PLATFORM for it.
    And yes they do spend a lot of money to develop and innovate, but only to be applied to THEIR OWN platform and a lot of times only to squash the new existing development.
    As an example let’s see, grammar correction software, personnal firewalls, Internet browsers, remote control software, file compression tools, encryption tools, Mail clients, and lots more.
    Those are ALL different softwares that used to be sold and , YES, Developed by private companies that Microsoft made and then integrated in their own software for FREE thus basically running small, promising and growing companies into the ground!
    And now that an entire operating system comes along for FREE and on which people can work in a cooperative manner, we’re supposed to feel scared and sorry to see the big giant get pushed around a little?!
    In my mind, they’re only getting a taste of their own medecine. Somebody finally made something that MS had and is now giving it away for free trying to drive it out of business….
    They hurt countless numbers of people and companies on the way to their Monopoly so you know what…the king is dead…long live the king!

  • bob.. maybe you have not kept up with the industry.. but jobs are being lost today to overseas outsourcing and open-source had not won..!
    INNOVATION..????? from WHO..??? MS..??? you must have ment.. INTERGRATION…!! the MS of today buy’s their products.. and then intergrates them into windows.. maybe you should analyse how many jobs have been lost thanks to MS intergrating product into windows and driving other companies under..
    here’s a question.. why innovate… if you do have a viable product.. and you do not sell out to MS.. they will develope a competing pruduct.. .. intergrate it into windows and drive you out of business.. wow.. that’s one hell of an incentive..

  • A so-called expert has just forgotten some basic innovations with large impact such as the wheel, electricity, Turing machine, von Neumann programming, spreadsheet, Internet, the Web, … were all invented not by big private companies but by individuals, small companies, state controlled agencies, universities, state research institutes, etc, which nowadays all greatly benefit of free or open software.
    Enderle just ignores that like for public scientific research, freely flowing information in open software has a multiplicative impact on society, because the progress of one is easily shared AM ong all the others, while in a closed information system, the progress is, at best, only additive, the wheel must be re-invented many times.
    The most mind-boggling invention in Windows? Press the Start button to Stop the computer!

  • This article seems to be rather biased. After
    following groklaw for (dis?)information about
    ibm-sco, I don’t see how the remarks in this article about the case follow from the actual situation (i.e. the case is more like a (bad) joke imho). Regarding the pessimistic utopia, I hope it is wrong – I don’t see any convincing reason why wide acceptance of oss would lead to the death of innovation.

  • As suggested elsewhere, I suggest Rob read http://www.groklaw.net for an analysis of the case. IBM’s supoenas were issued in response to a lack of discovery on the part of SCO. It’s really that simple. The folks who were supoena’d may be able to provide the information IBM was seeking that it could not obtain from SCO directly.

  • I think the author forgets that many of the innovative products came out of a) the academic circles or b) the FREE work of someone who believed in what they were doing. Only later were those products "monetized". An interesting comparison is to the art world. The great works of modern art were not done on commission but by artists who wanted to express what they ‘saw’. Commercial art, while certainly an expression of the artists talent, is bounded by the marketing interests it serves.
    I have worked for decades in the commericial software development field. My experience is that innovation does not happen by committee but by individuals who are excited by a new technology. That innovation doesn’t always result in a commercial product. Yet innovation continues.
    The author also points to Microsoft’s innovation. Yet it’s apparent to all that their "innovation" is aimed at gaining market share which, by its very nature, corrupts the product. Innovation is not packaging yet Microsoft would ask us to believe that delivering all function in one giant product is ‘innovation’. Any decent programmer will tell you that monolithic products, such as Windows, by virtue of the code entanglements is going to be less stable than more modular, "plugin" style products.
    Movement is not innovation.

  • Rob Enderle is disengenuous when he says "I can’t figure out how any of these parties are directly pertinent to the case." Perhaps he should spend five minutes talking to Laura Didio, his colleague from the Yankee Group who is his stand-in at Comdex, since she directly received one of IBM’s subpoenas. All the recipients of the IBM subpoenas were presented with evidence under NDA by the SCO Group about the IBM case; SCO wanted to influence them either to invest or give favorable reviews of SCO. Unfortunately, this is evidence that SCO has not provided to IBM itself, even though the SCO-IBM lawsuit is well into its discovery phase. Since SCO has delayed presenting evidence to IBM for well over 4 months now, IBM is forced to seek other means to determine what material SCO is accusing them of misappropriating. It is unbelievable to me that SCO, which initiated the lawsuit, is now delaying the presentation of this material to IBM. SCO should have had this evidence ready to hand over well in advance of the lawsuit. If anyone is interested in this case, http://www.groklaw.net has boatloads of information about it.

  • > where I’ll moderate a panel on the importance of Microssoft’s .NET framework
    Importance of .NET? Time to get out into the real world rob !
    >This series of subpoenas looks punitive to me because I can’t figure out how any of these parties are directly pertinent to the case.
    Come on rob do you honestly believe what you are writing here?
    >None of them appears to be an expert on the code in question. They weren’t involved with the contract in any way that I can see,
    So Rob, Tell us what the people that SCO have sent subpoenas to have to do with the contracts/case??
    All this review says is that you think it is wrong for IBM to do supoenas on people that SCO have publicly stated that they have shown the code in question and at the same time state that SCO are good for doing subpoenas on people who have nothing to do with the case..
    Please explain your bias in this review! Also I read somewhere that you recieve funding from Microsoft. Could this explain your bias?

  • Duh! IBM’s subpoenas are aimed at extracting from these analysts and investors the so-called "evidence" that SCO does not want to reveal in court. SCO has shown "evidence" to these guys but is unable or unwilling to do so in Court. If SCO was as sure of their case as you are, they would at least tell IBM why they are suing them. Don’t you think?
    Why don’t you read the court documents and get a clue about what is really happening? Or are you part of the scam as well?

  • ************
    Why this is interesting is that SCO appears to be attempting to prepare for trial, while IBM appears to be trying to destroy SCO’s ability to sustain the fight. With SCO’s legal team still on contingency, it still looks to me like SCO is more confident of winning in court than IBM is.
    Are you mad? IBM just wants to know the evidence, which SCO is unable to give to them!!!
    The way SCO have presented themselves through out this entire saga is one of desperation not someone who is confident.
    I cannot believe you came to this conclusion???
    I AM truly agasp and AM azed at your conclusion…WOW??? Where have you been???

  • Thanks for a good laugh Rob !!
    Have you ever thought about engaging the brain before writing this drivel?
    So come on who pays you for this? Microsoft? SCO?
    And as for the subpoenas.. It is obvious that IBM are doing these to try and find out what SCO are claiming! For 9 months now SCO are still refusing to show any proof so IBM are tring to find out other ways.. As for SCO’s subpoenas they are laughable.. even Daniel Lyons from forbes.com has realised this..

  • On the subject of subpeonas, I think you’re missing the point. (Stick with me here, I’ve got to give you some background first.)
    SCO is currently the subject of two Motions to Compel by IBM. IBM’s attorneys feel that SCO has been insufficiently forthcoming on the subject of exactly why they’re suing IBM. While SCO has provided a list of files which allegedly contain the stolen materials, they have so far refused to provide exact line numbers in those files, to specify exactly which kernels are allegedly in violation (Simply mentioning 2.4 and 2.5 is NOT good enough for legal use.) or to discuss which parts of SCO’s IP those files allegedly violate. In addition, SCO did not turn over their source code in usable form. Instead of burning it to a CD, they made PDF file and sent IBM printed records, probably in the belief that this would keep IBM from using software tools to determine the validity of SCO’s claims.
    In other words, SCO has not provided sufficent discovery for IBM’s lawyers to defend their client. Thus, IBM has sent (and will continue sending) subpeonas to everyone who has held high level meetings with SCO on the subject of IBM’s alleged violations in hopes of finding out what SCO has been telling them. I think IBM’s legal team believes that SCO will continue to be difficult on discovery matters, and that they will need to depose everyone who’s been involved with SCO so they can get the real story.
    You should also note that at least one of the financial houses doing business with SCO (Deutsche Bank) has analysts who have made public pronouncements about SCO’s future stock prices and speculated publicly about SCO’s chances in the upcoming suit. This speculation might have legal consequences for both the analyst and their employer in the form of an IBM lawsuit. The same may hold true for Yankee group, which did not gather all the facts before rooting quite loudly for SCO.
    Once again Rob, your research seems to be limited to reading SCO’s press releases. If you really want to follow the suit, I’d suggest going over to http://www.groklaw.com and learning about the other side of the story.

  • Have to wonder where you’re coming from, Rob.
    The independent OS is an artifact of the PC market, first the old 8-bit CP/M, then DOS. If you’re not working for MS or an MSCE mill, your money is from follow-ons, be it application development, consulting or support.
    Only MS has divorced the OS from the hardware, which has become a commodity item. Why not the OS as well? A VAR friend of mine has gone to using Linux as the back-end for his SMB customers; he can cut his bid because of lower acquisition cost, he can cut his support costs because it’s generally more stable, and he keeps more money in HIS business vs. further inflating MS’ bottom line. What’s not to like?
    As far as "innovation", can we really say that the extra eye-candy in XP vs. 2000 is innovative, or just an excuse to get you to cough up for the upgrade? Same thing for Office: what extra goodies in there are actually getting used?
    Linux will help the after-market folks greatly, and if they can break the stranglehold licensing they’re under, the OEMs as well.

  • The biggest software innovations today derive from the internet, the world wide web software and the resulting graphical browser created for it. All these innovations were made by government/academic institutions. ie DARPA, CERN and the NCSA.
    As usual Enderle knoews nothing about anything and just perpetrates misinformation and FUD.

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