Will DOJ open bottle of MS source?

The radical suggestion that Microsoft may be forced to open the source code for Windows has propelled the local Linux market into debate.

A flux of alternative remedies to Microsoft's marketplace monopoly has emerged within the IT industry after the US Department of Justice proposed over the weekend that Microsoft be split into two separate business units, one for its Windows operating system products and one for its application products, such as Microsoft Office.

Local industry analyst Paul Budde agreed with several US analysts' proposals that Microsoft be forced to open the source code to its Windows products.

Budde said Microsoft was "mature enough" to transform its business model to compete effectively and more fairly in the software development marketplace with an open source code to Windows. "They should be creative enough to do that. It's all becoming open system, anyway and they will have to move there."

Likewise, the president of the Sydney Linux Users' Group, Conrad Parker, said he would gladly welcome any court rulings to open the source code to Windows. "If they were to do that, it would be a good thing because that would mean there is more free software out there," he said.

Parker is confident that a freely available Windows source code would have no effect on Linux development. He said Linux developers were "already motivated to create free software, regardless of what commercial software exists".

"I don't think it (opening Windows source code) would have an impact on the amount of Linux development," he said.

However, the local regional manager for Linux Caldera, Gordon Hubbard, was not so enthusiastic. Although "many people would love to see it", opening the Windows source code was not a solution to any problem, he said.

Regardless, Hubbard said the DOJ proposal to split Microsoft into two business units was a "step in the right direction" to creating an "even playing field".

Meanwhile, Microsoft's local MD, Paul Houghton, was dismissive of suggestions that his company be forced to set free the Windows source code. "The source code is the intellectual property of Microsoft," he said. "To open it up and give it away goes against the fundamentals of competition in the marketplace."

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Byron Kaye

PC World

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