This eWEEK: May 19, 2003

Gibson: The SCO intellectual property frenzy may yet do more good than harm.

The information technology industry needs innovation around standards. It does not need an intellectual property terrorist threatening to sue everyone in sight. Most people, perhaps even SCO and its president and CEO, Darl McBride, might agree with that assertion. So why is SCO trying to stick up everyone whos ever used a computer running Linux? Is he an embedded Microsoftian or something? McBride certainly doesnt fear the opprobrium that erupted in his direction from members of the Linux community last week, who rightly fear short-term harm. But in the long term, the SCO intellectual property frenzy could help—thanks to the principle of inoculation. If Linux is clean of any protected Unix code, it will be immune to similar threats in the future.

Almost everyone would concede that IBM is a great company. And yet, Big Blue is really a collection of companies—most notably, hardware, software and services businesses. Each, by any reasonable yardstick, would measure up as great.

But lets go back a decade. Ten years ago, IBM could do no right—especially in software. Its goods were overpriced and underperforming, but the company, in its arrogance, believed its customers would want them anyway. They didnt. Chastened by its near-death experience, IBM scrapped the IBM-only approach that had hamstrung it for so long; embraced standards; and set about constructing, both internally and through acquisitions, a software industry powerhouse. Darryl Taft talked with the key builders of this new edifice, most notably Steve Mills, in his exploration of how the IBM Software Group came to achieve greatness. It shows how size, deftly managed, can be, as former CEO Lou Gerstner asserted, the companys greatest asset.

While IBMs software division may be one of the unsung heroes of IBMs renaissance, the unsung heroes of successful software development may be source code editors. Peter Coffee, certainly an expert in this technology, takes a close look at two new releases of established tools, Visual SlickEdit 8.0, from SlickEdit, and Source Insight 3.5, from Source Dynamics. Its a succinct tour that should help you decide what would help you the most. Peter gives the nod—narrowly—to Visual SlickEdit, a product that works as its name suggests—and works well with Borlands JBuilder and Microsofts Visual Studio.

Speaking of Microsoft, the company that invariably provokes controversy has provoked industry veteran Aaron Goldberg, who says in this weeks Free Spectrum column that the company is looking mighty IBM-like—and its not the good IBM of recent vintage hes talking about.

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