Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Freeing up the future: Is open source best for business?

We spend $1 trillion on software every year, writing off around twenty percent in failed applications. Not only is open source software free, but many are now claiming it works better too. Exec finds out more.

There’s been a war of attrition going on for a few years now. On one side, there’s the old guard of proprietary software; heavyweights like Microsoft Windows, Adobe Photoshop and Mac OS X, providers of industry standard, premium products - at a premium price. On the other, there’s the young buck in the form of open source software, or OSS.

This upstart may need a little more introduction. Perhaps best described as publicly shared intellectual property, OSS is software for which the underlying code has been made available for users, who are then able to read it or change it as they wish. It’s very much bottom-up system, with an almost hippyish agenda in some quarters of bringing an end to the strangle-grip that software vendors have on the industry.

Typically for something tarred with the hippy brush, the latter has been branded unreliable and of questionable security. Yet, instead, some of the big-hitters of the technology world have been keen to sing its praises.

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