There’s been a lot of action surrounding open source, Microsoft, Ubuntu, and Apple lately. Most of it has come out of OSCON this week.
For one, Microsoft has been coming out with interesting developments with open source. First, they became one of the largest sponsors of the SourceForge.net project competition. Then, they become a diamond sponsor of the OSCON event, where they also announced that they would be giving the Apache project $100,000 a year to help with development costs — development for Windows compatibility. What I see on the surface is a more open Microsoft on some fronts. What I really think: Microsoft is working to get more and more open source development happening on Windows, which is what Steve Ballmer said he wanted. Even deeper speculation: Microsoft is working to take the developers for open source projects and get them working on Windows more, taking away from the time they use to develop Linux applications. Just a speculation, but it would not be impossible knowing Microsoft.
Now on to a bigger topic — Apple.
This week Mark Shuttleworth made it known he wants to see Linux leapfrog Apple in the interface category in the next two years. This is big, because being the head of the largest and most popular Linux distribution, it would only seem natural that he would work to fulfill his wish within his own distribution. Ubuntu has the manpower to do it, but it will take effort out of many in the community outside of Ubuntu to reach this goal. It was nice, however, to see the head of one of the most powerful distributions acknowledging the fact that Apple set the bar for OS interfaces.
Steve Ballmer sent out a company-wide memo talking about the company’s position in the marketplace. It was interesting that he mentions Google and Apple both by name, and shows through the message that they are Microsoft’s largest competitors. Microsoft will have to work hard to redeem themselves in a marketplace that sees them as a company who has become bland. However, Microsoft is a large company, and it will be especially interesting to see how they counter the Apple ads which delt a great blow to Vista’s perception. Interestingly enough, it seems as if Steve Ballmer wants to emulate Apple, where Mark Shuttleworth wants to blast past Apple. Anoter interesting tidbit is that Steve Ballmer tries to convince Microsoft employees that their software is the best. Encouraging at best, but please. Ever hear of Mozilla Firefox?
One thing is clear — Apple will be facing quite a storm throughout the next year. Everyone, and I mean everyone will be gunning to make their systems better than Apple, and will also be marketing to help lead that perception. It will be interesting to watch and see whether or not Apple can withstand the competitions’ repeated blows without gaining a tainted reputation. They will almost certainly have to target Vista, and maybe, just maybe, begin to notice Linux.