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   RE: [xml-dev] Open Source or Else

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I have an acquaintance that works for CNN. 
He cited the costs as the major reason they 
switched to Linux for their web servers. It 
was a significant savings.

What I was pointing out is that software 
costs while significant, are only a part 
of the cost.  Acquiring maintaining and 
upgrading the hardware is also significant, 
thus the outsourcing to hosting systems. 
Outsourcing is another one of those cyclic 
events.  It makes sense in some economic 
downturns to outsource, and not in others.

I don't think it will hurt Microsoft.  It 
will force them to rethink some of their 
tactics, and when you are cash rich, you 
have time to think.  Who really takes a 
clobbering? the nails on the blackboard, 
razors-edge profit margin companies.  In 
these, open source can save them; unless 
of course, someone builds an open source 
version of their product.  

Sometimes the trend reverses:  freeware 
becomes cheapware.  An example: I discovered 
the CoolEdit2000 software package for 
mastering my digital recordings at home. 
Originally, it was a dorky DOS-based 
FFT editor.  Today, it is a plug-in 
compatible bundle of two-track digital 
editing tools that are simply killer.

It is marvelous.  $69 of software replaces 
25 to 35k worth of hardware, a 3 to 5 hundred 
dollar trip to a mastering company, and so 
on.  The independent CD manufacturers now 
have to practically give away their mastering 
services and rely on the print and package 
income.  Mastering-only labs have to be 
very reputable and capable of miracles to 
stay in business (you hire them for their 
golden ears, not their gear).  Others just 
go belly up.

Note, that CoolEdit was once freeware but 
given the costs is now cheapware.  I think 
we see trends in both directions.  Even 
where I can do the CD inserts and CD labels 
at home, if I need a volume of them (say 
> 200), it is still cheaper to go to the 
independent manufacturer who can afford 
a small run (< 1000) and make money.

Another example is the Guitar-Pro tablature 
editor.  It started out as a trainer package 
for guitar players learning to play by reading 
guitar tablature.  It has evolved into a 
very fine multitrack midi bed arrangement package for 
guitar composers.  Every release has included 
new features that I would have killed for when 
I was at college taking composition and guitar 
performance courses.

It's price has remained constant over all the 
years I've used it, and the new versions are 
kept at half the cost for previous customers.  
Very nice interface, vigilant attention to what 
the customers ask for, and very consistent pricing.  
Good strategy.  Because of the ease of use, familiarity 
and so on, open source would have to be orders 
of magnitude better in features to get me to 
switch because the cost is trivial next to 
the advantages of sticking with the product.

What happens is that new niches are created, 
and can be profitable. However, staying on 
the shelf without falling requires a very 
consistent approach to the customers.


-----Original Message-----
From: Shawn Parker [mailto:sparker@socket.net]

Not only that, but US companies are beginning to make the transition to
open-source and alternatives to Windows due to the economic crunch. 
Here in Missouri, the economic status is dismal.  Our company is looking
to go completely Linux by 05, as are many educational systems due to
budget cuts.  Government offices are also evaluating the switch.

Being able to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for software and
servers isn't realistic right now, nor do I think it ever will be here

I'm not anti-Microsoft.  I like some of their tools, and there are
suites of authorware (like Flash) that I enjoy using on Windows.  But,
they need to think more realistically about licensing and software

Open-source is a viable solution for small market business.  And, I
think that will hurt Microsoft in the long run.


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