Fascinating article about Microsoft and Open Source Software. Some thoughts:
- Neutral Questions: Although the formal modeling and conclusions seem sound the nature of the questions seem to be leaning towards Microsoft. For example, the question “Is there a scenario where Linux could be kicked out of the market by Microsoft?” could have been phrased with a neutral point of reference.
- Shorter Development Cycles: One main advantage of open source software (OSS) is significantly shorter development cycle because users can modify the code directly as they encounter problems or have new ideas on how to improve it.
- Higher Probability of Success: Software engineers claim that the better architecture of most OSS projects make them a potentially superior product, adding to the probability of success.
- Install Base: The value of an operating system depends on the number of users. A larger installed base implies that there will be stronger direct and indirect effects on software and more feedback on bugs and more suggestions for new features. Microsoft has larger install base than Linux.
- Linux Never Displaces Windows: Ghemawat and Casadesus-Masanell conclude that in the absence of cost asymmetries and as long as Windows has a first-mover advantage (a larger initial install base), Linux never displaces Windows of its leadership position.
- Microsoft Providing Windows Source Code to Governments: According to Ghemawat and Casadesus-Masanell, two factors could result in Windows being driven our of the market: (a) commitment from strategic buyers (governments and large corporations i.e. IBM) and (b) strength of Linux’s demand-side learning. This may be one main reason why Microsoft has been providing chunks of Windows’ source code to governments.
- Piracy Increases Microsofts Profits: Countries where piracy is highest, Linux has the lowest penetration rate. The model shows that Microsoft can use piracy as an effective tool to price discriminate, and that piracy may even result in higher profits to Microsoft!
Source: Pankaj Ghemawat and Ramon Casadesus-Masanell, Microsoft vs. Open Source: Who Will Win? http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/microsoft-vs-open-source-who-will-win, Accessed 2017/03/18
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