Software commoditization

Sun to Open Source Solaris? There are not that many UNIXes out there any more. All of the low-and mid-end operating systems (except for Windows) have been killed by Linux (and to some extent, BSD variants - and yes, I'm counting Mac OS X as one of these). Only in high end, some UNIX variants still exist for specialized purposes (like IRIX or AIX), but for the most part, even they are dying away.

You see, I believe in software commoditization. Much like electricity, or cell phones, you can buy electronic parts from different suppliers, and different manufacturers, have them all co-operate with one another, and build a fully functional computer from them. For some parts, you have a lot of choice (like motherboards); for some, you have less (CPU). But this all is good for the consumer, because he does not have to rely on a single supplier, or a single product. If it's faulty, he can reclaim his money and take his money elsewhere.

This is not true for operating systems. You run Windows, or you don't run anything at all.

If Windows was a standard, this would be okay. If everybody could make "Windowses", people could buy Adobe Windows, and then change to "Google Windows" if for some reason they would not be good. This is good. If you don't like Coca Cola, you buy Pepsi. Or any of the smaller players. It's just cola.

But Windows is not a standard. It's not a de-facto standard either, because it's not open. The Wine project is valiantly trying to produce an Open Source version of Windows, but no corporation can ever do the same thing, because they would be sued out of their suits.

However, Linux does provide the alternative. It's completely okay to commoditize the OS - you could buy (theoretically) Adobe Linux, or Google Linux. Hey, the more, the better.

The power of Linux does not reside in the fact that it's free. Anyone can twist the figures until they show that Linux is cheaper/more expensive than Windows, since it is really difficult to determine the proper way to calculate the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). The real power of Linux lies in the fact that it allows the Operating System to become a commodity, something you can just go out to the store, buy and be done with it.

Most normal people don't really care. They just want their computers to work. But now, they have little choice when it comes to say, security. Everybody is at the mercy of Microsoft's security department. They could stop the world, if they wanted to. It might not even ruin the company. If the OS is a commodity - you just go to the store and buy an another OS, which may be a bit more expensive, but it has better security. With Windows, there is no choice.

Most of us do just email, word processing, and web surfing. Perhaps store pictures and music. For all of these, we have alternatives; we are able to shop around and buy something that suits us better. Some of the things are free. Some of the things are not. Both have their advantages - if I'm a casual user, then the free software version might be adequate. If I need something more, I'm happy to buy it. Why would the average user need to buy a very expensive piece of software (i.e. Windows) which has far more capabilities (and far more troubles) than he really needs?

In the end, the more efficient and user-friendly programs will win the hearts of the users. Why shouldn't the same thing be true for the Operating System of your little box?

Choice for the people is good.

It's just cola.

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"Software Commoditization" last changed on 08-Jun-2004 15:30:15 EEST by JanneJalkanen.

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