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Re: free "software" & geeky nitpicking (was Re: [DotGNU]paying for free

From: David Bradley
Subject: Re: free "software" & geeky nitpicking (was Re: [DotGNU]paying for free software (was Re: `freeing' proprietary software))
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 09:00:44 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv:1.0rc2) Gecko/20020512 Netscape/7.0b1

S11001001 wrote:

`People' just don't get up in arms about their computers, which I feel is the biggest barrier in bring Free Software principles to the masses. :( I would personally love to have a bunch of vocal Free Software fans who were users, not hackers/sysadmins/everyone obsessed with "free as in price". Because "reduced TCO" is not very useful, and it will be a while before people can make the connection: free software -> no central control && get your fav. hacker (u kno u hav 1 ;) to fix it.

I think the biggest barrier is that your average users doesn't have the time or knowledge to find and deal with free software. Most computers come with an OS and basic applications installed. They're quite happy with what they have. Also you can find books and other people to help you with the commercial software.

My first experience with Linux a few years ago really dowsed my enthusiasm. I had hoped to quickly setup a simple web server. I spent many evenings trying to get the system configured. None of the books and online documentation I had at my disposal was accurate. I had to piece information together from all sources before I finally was able to get things up and running. Only then to run into the exact same problem with the SQL engine. I gave up. While if I was in a tinkering mode, I might have enjoyed this, my goal was not to tinker and play with an OS. I've setup similar commercial systems in a day.

The same will hold true for dotGNU. If the startup costs and learning curve are significantly higher than .Net don't expect Windows developers to flock in droves to use this. dotGNU will be an alternative for the Microsoft Haters Union, but not the main stream Windows developer. If you want to be more than a fringe element you have to be attractive to these types of developers. And at least from what I've seen so far, it's just not there.

I think Microsoft realized this many years ago and why they do invest as much in their dev tools as they do. They got bit early on by Borland. Microsoft used to be lagging behind Borland and others. And I think they realized the importance of having a large group of developers willing to write software for your OS. It was a long term investment that has paid off. While the cost of acquiring free software is free, development using free software has a higher cost than developing with commercial tools.

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