Bill Gates Claims Open Source Means Nobody Can Improve Software

from the say-what-now? dept

Wired is running an interesting article about Bill Gates' thoughts on the pharmaceutical industry, which he's increasingly focused on as he transitions out of Microsoft and into his foundation. He clearly understands the basic problem, though I think he has the wrong solution in brushing off the idea that "open sourcing" medicine is a huge opportunity. As for why... well, I'll be discussing that in a future post. Instead, for this post, I wanted to focus on a rather bizarre statement out of Gates (all the way at the end of the article) in discussing why he dislikes open source software. His complaint is that open source creates a license "so that nobody can ever improve the software." It's hard to figure out how to respond to that statement since it's the exact opposite of how open source software works. The exact point is that anyone can improve the software. It's proprietary software like Microsoft's that's limited such that only Microsoft is allowed to improve it. It's no secret that Gates isn't a fan of open source software, but it still seems odd that he would make a statement that is so obviously false, both in theory and in practice. Perhaps old FUD habits die hard, but one would hope that as he enters "retirement" he'll have a more open mind on such things.

Filed Under: bill gates, open source, pharmaceuticals


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  1. identicon
    Chris Maresca, 24 Apr 2008 @ 11:34am

    Re:

    Hhmmm.

    MySQL - Sold for $1 billion
    XenSource - Sold for $500 million
    JBoss - Sold for $400 million
    Zimbra - Sold for $350 million
    Sourcefire - IPO for $350 million

    I guess $2.6 billion in the last 18 months is pocket change for you...

    And lets talk about P/E for a second. When EMC bought VMware, they paid $635 million for a company with $100 million in revenue. When Citrix bought XenSource, they paid $500 million for a company with less than $1 million in revenue. Who is building value, exactly? Seems like open source companies are building MORE value than any closed source company ever did (and I didn't even mention Google...).

    More info here if you are still not convinced:

    http://www.the451group.com/report_view/report_view.php?entity_id=51385&dealbook=re fer

    Chris.

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