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. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Apr 2008 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Tech Geekieness Aside...

    I'd take issue with a few things there, Ryan:

    "Windows is more successful because of its ease of use."

    That's arguable. People have generally learned to live with Windows' problems because it's all they've known thanks to MS's monopoly. When things happen that shouldn't (e.g. worms/viruses, regular DLL problems), they live with them. When something comes along that should prevent that problem (e.g. Vista's constant prompting or the need to log into a Linux machine), it's usually preceived as annoying becuase it's different, even though it would prevent problems.

    Besides, if ease-of-use was the only criteria for success, wouldn't Macs be the biggest sellers?

    "GUI based linux OS's run like Windows 98. Whoop di doo!"

    Try a recent distribution, preferably one that uses Compiz if you want the 3d effects. Basing arguments on 5-year old distributions doesn't help.

    Other than that, I agree with your points.

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