Con Zymaris conz at cyber.com.au
Wed May 12 15:33:02 UTC 2004

[feel free to disseminate this to other lists]
For Immediate Release.


OSIA, Australia's Open Source industry body, cautions Australian
businesses against becoming tied down to particular software
architectures or so-called 'product roadmaps', and the illusion of
stability provided by a well-heeled and powerful computer software
vendor whose interests lie with their own business and revenues and not

Very often the actual path followed by the vendor marketing the 'vision'
bears little real resemblance to the eventual technology users will be
asked to run a few years later.

"As an example, we have Microsoft, who have already abandoned countless
'firm' and 'bet the farm' platforms," said Leon Brooks, spokesperson for
OSIA. "Platforms which millions of users and developers had adopted at
the vendor's behest, understanding these to be an official part of the
'roadmap'. A roadmap which included and then discarded technologies like
OS/2, pitched by Microsoft as the future of personal computer operating
systems; Blackbird, a competitor to HTML; the original MSN, which,
incredibly, was incompatible with the Internet, and a long string of
'object oriented' systems designed to supercede the Windows API (Cairo,
MFC, Visual J++, OLE2, COM, DCOM, DNA) most of which were mutually
exclusive, meaning that users and developers often had to migrate and
re-code after Microsoft moved from one to the other. Finally we now have
.NET, which is causing yet another re-write, a scenario likely to be
repeated yet again when Longhorn sees the light of day."

Meanwhile, the 'object oriented' Visual Basic family broke compatibility
at version 4 (it wouldn't compile earlier programs without significant
modification) and again at version 7. Both of these interruptions, which
infuriated developers, were bought about when Microsoft decided to dump
its previous architecture 'roadmap' and adopt a new one.

As recently-published management-level statements made within Microsoft
show, these changes weren't made for the benefit of any Australian
companies. The whole point in their roadmap is to lead people away from
Microsoft's competitors, and entice them into becoming committed to
Microsoft's plans primarily for Microsoft's financial benefit and
industry leverage.

There has also been a series of recent statements from some of these
same proprietary software vendors, attacking the open source development
and distribution process for lacking a vendor 'roadmap'. We reject these
comments completely.

"Open source is not about creating some form of roadmap and then ramming
it down users' throats," continued Brooks. "Open source is the most
direct, democratically-oriented method for quality software production
available. In effect, the users are the builders of the software. 
Software evolves to do what users want it to do; no more, no less. Open
source offers every Australian organisation a chance to draw their own
roadmap; a path which focuses around the immediate, pragmatic,
production-level needs of your business, rather than some vendor's
business and revenues targets."

Contrast this with vendor roadmaps, where vendors who aim to achieve a
position of dominance or leverage within an industry sector, claim to
listen to users, but more often than not are really only dreaming up,
then changing roadmaps when it best suits themselves. 

"Ask yourself this," continued Brooks. "When was the last time a major
proprietary software vendor sought your input on their future
architecture roadmap and then proceeded to add your feature requests?"

"Finally, we also want to dispel the myth that open source software can
only follow in the roadmap footsteps of proprietary software vendors,
especially when it comes to achieving breakthrough technology for users.
The single most important software creation of the past 25 years is the
Internet. The Internet, from the TCP/IP protocol up, through a thousand
software components and specifications, was built upon and with open
source software. Its open, interoperable, scalable, vendor-neutral
nature is a harbinger of things to come in the platform and application
space." concluded Brooks.

- - -

About Open Source Industry Australia

OSIA is the industry body for Open Source within Australia. We exist to
further the cause of Free and Open Source software (FOSS) in Australia
and to help our members to improve their business success in this
growing sector of the global Information and Communication Technology
(ICT) market.


Spokesperson/Contact: Con Zymaris
Phone: 03 9621 2377
Fax: 03 9621 2477
Email: conz at cyber.com.au


Con Zymaris <conz at cyber.com.au> Level 4, 10 Queen St, Melbourne, Australia 
Cybersource: Australia's Leading Linux and Open Source Solutions Company 
Web: http://www.cyber.com.au/  Phone: 03 9621 2377   Fax: 03 9621 2477

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