The Right Spirit

From Steve Jobs 1997 presentation when he announced his partnership with Microsoft:

Where we are right now is, we are shepherding some of the greatest assets in the computer industry.

If we want to move forward, seeing Apple helping an prospering again.

We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose. We have to embrace the notion that for Apple to win, Apple has to do a really good job. And if others are going to help us, that's great. Because we need all the help we can get. And if we screw up and do not do a good job, it is not somebody else's fault, it is our fault.

So I think that is a very important discussion.

If we want Microsoft office on the Mac, we better treat the company that puts it out with a little bit of gratitude. We like their software.

So the era of setting this up as a competition between Apple and Microsoft is over as far as I am concerned. This is about getting Apple healthy and this is about Apple being able to make incredibly great contributions to the industry and get healthy and prosper again.

I feel exactly this way about open source. For open source to win, we do not need Microsoft, Apple or proprietary software to lose. The industry is not a zero-sum game, not only we enrich each other's platforms by exploring different ideas, but it is also incredibly healthy for the industry to have a blend of different approaches to computing.

Open source software leads in some areas in the industry and we as a community are very proud of its success. But when it comes to the areas where open source has not delivered a full solution like our proprietary competitors have, we resort to finger pointing and blaming others.

Some in the open source movement would like all the software in the industry to be open source/free software. Desktops, servers, games, embedded systems and everything that every human touches.

Although it is a noble goal, it has set people up for suffering by making the goal unachievable. It has been 15 years since the rise of the first large open source companies and by now we should know that our dream of a pure open source stack ruling the world is not going to happen any decade now.

Luckily, today, we have a much better understanding of where open source works and where it does not.

It would do us good to ponder Steve's 1997 message:

And if others are going to help us, that's great. Because we need all the help we can get. And if we screw up and do not do a good job, it is not somebody else's fault, it is our fault.

Once again, I want to recommend Ben Zander's The Art of Possibility book, a book with various recipes on how to look at the world through new eyes.

Posted on 03 Apr 2010 by Miguel de Icaza
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