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.

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  1. identicon
    FUD Buster, 23 Apr 2008 @ 12:02pm

    BUT..

    This was an issue with the Government at one time. I think some of the GPL licenses read in a way that it could be argued that any improvements made had to be shared.

    So if you make improvments that deal with something secret or that gives you a business edge you have to give it back.

    Linksys built a system on Linux for low cost routers.. had to then share the code. So now anyone can see what they did.

    to me that is like saying.. Here use our LCD projectors for free as long as all your confidential business stratgies even shown on it are posted to YouTube.

    Has this ever been fixed in the GPL so you can keep your improvements to yourself?

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