How can Open Source Software compete?

I admit, that title is misleading and intriguing at the same time.

I recently received a copy of Visual Studio 2008 compliments of Microsoft and a fellow colleague. Thanks Joe! After installing Visual Studio and playing with it for awhile I took a look through the other contents of the packaging. There was an informative pamphlet with factoids about the 2008 suite of products (Server, Studio and SQL). Along with this was a print out thanking me for trying 2008 and making note of the “Biggest launch event of 2008″. After going to http://www.heroeshappenhere.com/ and browsing through what seems more like an agenda for a major rock tour it got me thinking enough to post about it.

Here is this extremely large orchestration of marketing information steamrolling across the United States. Many dates have two cities on the same day, and all about 3 products from Microsoft. I am flabbergasted by how massive of a marketing engine Microsoft is commanding. I heard about launch events in the past, attended a couple in Orlando here and there but after checking out that website it is amazing as to how much content they are pumping into the community in a single day. They probably have more technology and sound equipment than a Kiss concert and a NASA shuttle launch at one of these things. All of this for computer software. This is amazing to me.

It goes to show that Microsoft is gaining more developers and more steam each and every session at each and every one of these events. How in the world can Open Source alternatives EVER hope to keep up with this momentum or even surpass it?

Simply put, It cannot.

There will ALWAYS be more developers that are aligning with Microsoft tools and frameworks then any other open source alternative hands down. I don’t care how easy to use your open source tool is, or how useful it is to the community or how good the documentation is. The bottom line is that Microsoft is simply playing with larger numbers. Now, this is a prime example of quantity over quality. Just because they are feeding 80% of the development community doesn’t mean that it’s quality, not by any measure. Most common developers are still hard coding SQL statements or creating C# applications with wizards. I will probably get blasted for that last statement but I’m sorry, it is a fact and quite sickening to see. The interesting part about the impending nasty comments is the fact that because Microsoft has a much larger following that certain developers, not all but some, will defend Microsoft blindly without any measure of comparison. That part is almost as amazing to me as the massive launch event that gets more attention then some open source projects get in their lifetime. Bottom line is, if you are reading this or are subscribed to the LosTechies feed you probably have a good idea of the slew of other alternatives out there to Microsoft and you know as well as I do that there is no possible way our kick ass open source tools can compete with Microsoft on their level. Our only hope is to show them the path, continue our meditations and hope that they will too become enlightened. Such is the path of the Bodhisattva :)

This is definitely one of my more frustration driven posts but I’m sick of walking on egg shells around these crowds. Now if you will, please blast away just watch the language please.

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About Sean Chambers

I am a Senior software developer from Palm Coast, Florida. An advocate of Domain Driven Design, Behavior Driven Development, creator of FluentMigrator and community activist. I am married to my beautiful wife Erin and am the proud father of two wonderful children. I currently reside at ACI, a local insurance industry/mortgage software company that excels in creating solutions using Agile methodologies.
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  • Henning Kilset

    Why blast you – I completely agree with you. It is a fact that Microsoft has a VERY commanding presence in our market. But hey – the tools they produce are also what makes excellent open source projects like Castle and Nhibernate doable in the first place. I like to think of it as MS providing an extended platform, while the real work is up to us, as developers. If you wish, you can go with the hand-holding ways of MS, or you can create kick-ass code with tools that don’t neccesarily get in your way :)