Where Scott McNealy's wrong about the economics of open source

by Volker Weber

IBM was probably the first company to reinvent itself around a viable model for the future. Ironically, IBM took its first step in this direction when it gave up on some of its software products (such as OS/2 and SmartSuite), endorsed Java, and started promoting open standards as the only reasonable course of action. As a former user and fan of OS/2, I resented IBM's move back then, and I resented even more that it was induced in part by Microsoft's refusal to let IBM license Windows 95 for a reasonable price unless it put the brakes on OS/2.

In retrospect, however, this could have been one of the best moments in open source history. IBM's transition to Java and open standards eventually led to its support of Linux and open source, steps it probably wouldn't have taken if IBM had held onto the dream of supplanting Windows with OS/2 and Office with SmartSuite. We can also credit IBM for given Linux a great deal of credibility by endorsing it. In a twisted way, we

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