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
    Alexio, 23 Apr 2008 @ 11:15am

    After trying Xandros for some time, I am back with WinXP. The theory is good, but the implication (all flavors of Linux) is still quite sub par to the commercial stuff.

    And the reason is simple: the GLP soft might be fundamentally good and constantly improving, but you have to be a geek to appreciate it. That's because very smart people who work on it are generally quite detached from the needs and aspirations of the rest of us (less the price tag).

    Hence, someone should really steer (with all the authority or iron fist) the project in certain, down to earth, direction; situation almost inconceivable for GLP-type projects.

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