Microsofts Matusow: No Right Way to Create Software

The head of Microsoft's Shared Source Initiative said he foresees a world of coexistence where no one software development and distribution model wins.

WASHINGTON—The head of Microsoft Corp.s Shared Source Initiative Tuesday said he foresees a world of coexistence where no one software development and distribution model wins.

"I see a world of coexistence," said Jason Matusow, program manager for Microsofts Shared Source Initiative (SSI), which is the companys response to the open-source movement where Microsoft allows key customers to access source code for some of its operating systems and other technologies. "There is not going to be a world where one model wins over the other," he said.

Matusow, who spoke at the Open Standards/Open Source for National and Local eGovernment Programs in the U.S. and EU conference here said, "There is no right way to create software," noting that open source is no better than commercial, proprietary software development.

In fact, Matusow refuted the whole notion of open source.

"IBMs step into open source is not one of pure benevolence to society," he said.

Matusow said there is simply a distinction between commercial software and non-commercial software. "There is no longer a sense that there is commercial software and open source." He said there is the commercial model such as Microsofts, "and then there are those people that are going to take open-source software and commercialize it."

He mentioned CollabNet Inc., VA Software Corp., Ximian Inc., and SuSE Linux AG, among others following this model.

"There is a broad move to the middle" in terms of business model around open-source software. Companies like Microsoft Corp., IBM, Apple Computer Inc. and Oracle Corp. are moving to open source to appease customers and are making a business model out of it, and the companies listed earlier see an opportunity for a revenue model based on open-source software, he said.

Matusow likened Microsofts model to those of IBM and Red Hat Inc., which charge for support and service on their Linux offerings.

"It is not the same thing at all," said Michael Tiemann, chief technology officer at Red Hat, who also spoke at the conference. He said Red Hats software is available for download from the company "and you can take our services or buy from others or do your own, but Microsoft doesnt offer its software for free and you have to get the service from Microsoft. We say you can get it from someone else, but dont use our brand."