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. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Apr 2008 @ 1:06pm

    Re:

    @Alexio@ any chance you might want to elaborate? This is part of the problem - you apparently "used" a relatively obscure Linux distribution (Why not Fedora? Mandiva? Ubuntu? etc..) and decided that it wasn't for you.

    Fine. But why? Why do you claim "you need to be a geek to appreciate it"? What was it that you found lacking - application support? Hardware support? Did you just not like the look and feel? Did you find yourself reverting to the command line or unable to find a particular function?

    ...and what about the Xandros project itself? Projects like that need feedback from ordinary users to tell them how they can improve. Did you let them know what you found lacking? Did you check the project pages where these distributions are usually more desperate for artists, writers and testers (i.e. users who will feed back their experience) than they are for coders?

    Sadly, until people start supplying these details instead of just giving vague "it wasn't as good as the $500 stuff" messages, it'll be difficult to meet your needs. Tell people what your needs are, and they can be met.

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