The Rise and Fall of the Software Empire

As technology advances the community effort continues to erode the dominance of software developers. There are now very few software packages that do not have a shareware free or open-source solution for those that search for it from graphics to operating systems.

There are multiple versions of the Linux operating system and other Unix based systems available. Also available now are office suites like Open Office with word processing spreadsheet database presentation etc. There are graphics programs like Gimp competing with Photoshop and most every utility program has an adequate substitute that can be downloaded for free.

In many cases the open source alternatives are not as good as the commercial versions but there are two trends there. First most open source alternatives will give most people all they need in that area. Second they are closing in and in a few cases taking over; and particularly in internet based applications. The LAMP quartet and Firefox are examples of that.

Commercial software is now fighting for survival. The big companies continue to merge thus eliminating internal competition and build more controlling monopolies. More strict regulation and activation policies are focusing on getting more money. Ironically that very thing is giving people better reasons to find alternatives. Enterprise is now the biggest focus of the software giants and service is the mode of fulfillment. As a service the giants are focusing on making companies dependent.

It's not a win-win situation though. Commercial software companies are driven by business to improve their products and provide secure updates for their software. Microsoft now has one of the best support sites in the industry. The development at Adobe is making that company a necessity among graphic artists. Apple and Sun are also strong and progressive. Open source solutions can often be very fickle. They don't have the same survival instinct and are often less organized.

As commercial software companies begin to fall to community efforts the question is whether those community efforts will rise to the call and continue to meet the needs of the community.

There is a saying. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely whether in the hands of one or a million. What will happen when the million community (communist) developers start taking over? Community effort is a nice thought and the philosophy behind communism is promising. But then is communism really the rule of a million?

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