Microsoft has always been an open-source proponent, or at least since their interoperability general manager Jean Paoli said that Microsoft loves open source and also that its anti-open source stand was an error. It has approved its own open source license by the Open Source Initiative. Then after this revolutionary statement, why is Microsoft retreating its own words and following closed source system?
Before we start this reasoning I will enlighten you about what basically is a closed or open source system. Both open source and closed source systems are ways of distribution of software. A closed source system is something where the original source code cannot be accessed or is not shared. It includes restriction on the accessibility. Here, the user does not purchase the software or the product, but the right to use to software or product. This is considered as the trade secret of the developers. An open sourced system is exactly the opposite of this concept. Nothing is restricted in an open source system in any manner. This is made available with certain license-restrictions. So as long as the credits are given to its original manufacturer the source code of the software can be modified easily.
Apple has stuck to its closed system concept since long. With the iOS apple has always kept its source code secret. Few companies like Red Hat Inc. give away their products or software for free but charge only for support services. Microsoft also followed its open source policy just before the ingress of Windows Phone 7. Everything about this phone is available with a restricted approach.
There might be multiple reasons for Microsoft to take this step. Essentially it would include all the advantages of closed sourced system and the drawbacks of open source. While using or especially developing within an open sourced environment the developer is in no way aware of what is happening on the other side. That is while making an application he is not aware of what specifications the device will hold. For instance, if the developer is making a camera application then he must know what peculiarities the device’s camera will have. The closed source has a completely different scenario. The applications made are just with the specifications provided. Rather they are made corresponding to the specifications only.
Another reason for choosing this must be reviewing. It is difficult to keep track of all the source codes and entries. Reviewing is time consuming and difficult. The more the applications are compatible to the environment of the device, the less number of bugs can be found. It is also easier to write a simple encryption code than to keep writing a whole human-computer language source code.
But would Microsoft lose anything in all this? Microsoft has always been an open source supporter and has brought up many open source codes within the last year. This might make Microsoft lose its business. The connections which it shared with multiple other companies and components will be of no use. Companies hesitate to commit to closed sources this might be a trouble which Microsoft might face. The thing with Apple is that, it has been into the market under a closed source banner for a long time. Rather it started with closed source and now has deep dug roots with the same. Hence it can be a good and tough competitor for Microsoft’s newly growing roots under the same shelter.
But along with all this, the new OS that Microsoft is working on supports various strategies which will benefit the company in multiple tracks. So we cannot totally deny the strategic move made by this well-developed firm. It has also made some tie-ups with open source providers too so that it doesn’t completely remain aloof and lost.
Microsoft has already started with its various steps along with this closed venture. With the recent launch of the new Surface tablet Microsoft is ready to touch new heights. As it is launched with the recent Windows 8 RT OS it has a closed source operation. With iPad and all the wonderful Android tablets’ market for competition Microsoft has to stand firm with its new closed enclosure. To know more about the specifications and details about Microsoft Surface and its launch you can look here.
What happens next is what we can just wait for and look forward to the change, whether it is good or bad.