Google, Microsoft and Open Source – The bottom line is supreme.

Both Google and Microsoft love open source in direct proportion to the value it adds to their bottom lines. None of them is genuinely interested in being friends with the open source community. It is only a tool for the two giants.
Everybody knows that open source has greater advantages over closed source, something that even Microsoft knows. What I’ve really been thinking as I read the Google-Microsoft-open source debate is that none of those two companies is actually interested in open source because of its advantages alone. Google and Microsoft are publicly held companies who account to shareholders at the end of the financial period.
They’re interested in maximizing the returns on their shareholders’ investments. This simply means that everything they do is in line to achieving the above goal. Thus if being nice and singing the open source gospel will improve the bottom line, trust me, even Microsoft will do so. The Codeplex Foundation by Microsoft is a testimony to this.
Google, it can be argued, is more nice to open source than Microsoft with it’s open source Chrome browser, Android mobile OS and its upcoming ChromeOS. But all these are projects that actually help Google achieve its profitability objective. However, if Google really believes that open source wins, its search engine algorithm would have been open long ago. But what do we hear from Mountain View? That making its search engine algorithm open will open the flood gates for spammers.
Which is more secure, a code with thousands of eyes from all the over the world keeping watch over it or one with only a tiny fraction of that in just one place to watch over it? Opening the search engine algorithm will not be in the interest of Google’s bottom line so to hell with open source in this regard. Neither Google nor Microsoft is in anyway going to be genuine friends with the open source community.
What I think most open source enthusiasts need to note is that both companies only see open source as a means to an end. To them, open source is only a friend as long as it is expedient to them. I would really love to see people viewing those companies as what they really are: commercial entities that are out to make the most profits. None of them is out there for the open source community whatsoever.

2 Replies to “Google, Microsoft and Open Source – The bottom line is supreme.”

  1. Of course they see open source as a means to an end. And they should, to act otherwise would be insane (although I agree using feeble excuses when they can't find a way around being 'proprietary' is disingenuous). However, Google's acceptance and use of open source is profoundly different than Microsoft's. Ultimately I will welcome a completely open approach but in the meantime Google's contributions, including hosting and contributing to open source development outside their own products, are not insignificant.

  2. Merry Xmas David. Yea, at least Google is way better than MS in terms of contributing back to the community. We can only hope that someday we get a really powerful entity who'll be an all out open source player.

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