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
    Reed, 23 Apr 2008 @ 3:21pm

    Re: Re: Tech Geekieness Aside...

    Market share is a horrible way to judge closed source and open source applications. For one people don't buy open source programs so figuring out how many people actually use them is difficult and problematic. The second problem is how many people who do not buy their commercial software.

    Market Share is also interpretive. Is it market share in the US or South America? Does it include servers?

    Basically statistics like market share are 99% useless and should not be used to prove your points. If you don't believe me how about this. Over 90% of servers not associated with major companies are ran by Linux which accounts for the majority of sites on the Internet. So Linux is actually wildly more popular since the majority of computing nowadays takes place on the internet. What does this prove? Not a whole lot.

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