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Mailbag: Microsoft's New Clothes, More

Last week, Doug reported on Microsoft's entry into the fashion world with its new line of "Softwear" T-shirts. Cool or not? James offers his opinion:

Would I wear a shirt with Uncle Bill's mug or the word "DOS" on it? Nope. Wait, let me rephrase that: HELL NO! That ain't cool -- not even "sorta kool." If that's what Microsoft thinks is cool, it's no wonder that its lame-@ss commercials fell flat on their face. With all its money, you would think those guys out in Redmond (on the other side of the lake) could at least buy a clue.

Scott gives his take on the open source business model and just how lucrative it is (or isn't):

I've heard more than enough about business models, open source earning potential and what CEOs say! The unrealistic citation of some U.K. company that tried to force users into a Linux PC scenario hardly typifies the open source mantra. The firm tried too hard to save a buck for an organization of its size.

Open source is not a lucrative proposition, and to that I would like to add a little information. I see three different open source business models at play in industry today: those that want to be acquired (e.g., Zimbra, MySQL and Zen), those that want to generate income via support contracts as a way to keep the company and still generate revenue (e.g., RedHat), and those that are willing to beat their own path to success -- look at Digium.

Digium started by buying the rights to a silly V.90 modem modification that allowed it to work as VoIP. ZapTel, if memory serves. It then developed hardware as a product. Asterisk was born from Digium in the early days with the promise that if you bought Digium hardware, Asterisk would be supported. Asterisk is now the de facto in open source VoIP. Great model right? Nope! After Asterisk had been in the wild for a period of time, various products emerged based on that piece of software. SwitchVox emerged as the most robust product; Digium acquired and now sells/supports this product. Hugely successful on the scope and range of Digium. I actually dislike the the SwitchVox product...but I love the model. Open source released into the wild and recaptured as a viable product. Hmm.

And finally, John wants to make sure we've got our sources straight:

I just wanted to point out that WhiteHat Security did not issue the report you reference in your Redmond Report item, "U.S. Balance of Trade Great -- for Malware!" The WhiteHat report was in relation to Web site security flaws. The report you referenced is the one by Sophos regarding malware.

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on December 16, 2008 at 11:53 AM


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