Ah, Open Source vs. Microsoft. The endless debate about tastes great, less filling.
My favorite cartoonist and out of the box thinker, just walked into the trap.
The picture is part of a project Hugh Macleod is working on for Microsoft. In the post, Hugh makes the comment:
"This cartoon was an attempt by me to sum up the answer to a very simple question: If Open Source software is free, then why bother spending money on Microsoft Partner stuff?"
He tries to answer it with his observation:
"I know very little about software, so my hunch is that the reason Microsoft is able to make money, is simply that running a large business with 2000 people on the payroll requires very different ways of going about it, than just hacking together something in your garage. Open Source may be free [at least at first], but how well does it scale? How well does Open Source currently meet the needs of shareholders and CEOs?"
Approximately one billion Open Source/Anti-Microsoft people are probably burning up keyboard around the globe on this one.
I will focus your attention on the line about shareholders and CEOs. Heck, let's add investors to the pile because all three of us likely have the same answer. We don't care. What we collectively care about are solutions to problems that make us money. That's what you should care about.
For example, last week, I gave a talk with three powerpoint slides full of opportunities with Exchange/Outlook that I believed people would pay to have solved for them. If a Microsoft Partner fixes or some hacker in the backroom fixes with the free Microsoft compilers, I'm good either way.
There is a pretty good open source project happening to deal with some schedule/calendaring problems which cover all platforms. People are going to pay (gladly) for the product that comes out of it.
Shareholders, CEOs, and (for the most part) Investors are generally clueless when it comes to the beginnings of your great idea. You take the tools (whatever they are), your vision, and your passion into the game. You create a solution and see if the dogs eat it. You don't worry about pleasing anyone, just fix the problem. If it was worth fixing, if the product/service you offer has value/meaning to people, you are there. Your shareholders and your investors will be happy after your customers are.
And none of us will care about Open Source or Microsoft.
Hope you had Thomas custom fit that flak jacket, Hugh.
Update: Seth Godin has another insight here. Go read it, smarter than me.