Evaluating Commercial Open Source Projects
Thursday April 22nd, 1999
A recent Forbes article characterized Mozilla as a "flop". The article had so many inaccuracies that I felt a rebuttal was required. At the same time, I felt that some light needed to be shed on the differences between commercial Open Source projects and "all volunteer" Open Source projects. What follows (click "Full Article" below) is a rebuttal to the assertions in the Forbes article and my opinion on what can reasonably be expected from a commercial Open Source project.
As always, the opinions are my own, and do not reflect the opinions of mozilla.org (which MozillaZine is not affiliated with).
#53 Re:Evaluating Commercial Open Source Projects
by Mr Z
Monday April 26th, 1999 10:38 AM
You are replying to this message
"as to the average mr and mrs smith the end user i hate to tell you but guess what their email adress is: <mrSmith@aol.com>"
What does their email address have to do with their willingness to download more software that (in their minds) does the same thing that is already on their computer? Again, people seem to think that most end users care about their browsers. They don't. They just want a browser that displays their pages fast. They don't know what goes on behind the scenes. Human nature dictates people won't go out of their way unless they see a benefit. Saying "Mozilla is 100% standards compliant" means nothing to these people. There has to be some demonstrable benefit to end users to get them to switch. And for Windows users it will be even more difficult to get them to convert. After all, if everybody went to the best thing then wouldn't *everybody* be using Netscape or IE 4 (or iCab/Opera/Neoplanet) by now?
Even if what you say is true it doesn't matter since AOL has said they wil continue to use IE as their render engine for the remainder of their contract (which IIRC is another 2 years). If they ship Mozilla on their CDs will the average user install it? You can bet that the AOL browser will be the default install and as I said, IE is already on the vast majority of user's (windows) machines.
Let's make no mistake AOL bought Netscape for their web portal, not the browser. They let Sun have all the server software. They may use Gecko for some future products, but that is not a web browser.
"as to: "Unfortunately, I think it will take something beyond the means of the hardworking Mozilla supporters to overcome the ennui." "
"how about full functioning web applications for mr and mrs intranet, portal, isp etc . . that will be unlike anything seen before on the web."
More promises of vaporware. Who cares about the future when my business requires I develop stuff *now*? I have spent 14 months developing web applications for intranet use on Netscape 4. It would be much much easier to develop for IE4 than Netscape 4, but we went with the open standards approach for a reason. Of course development required lots of kludges to get things to run right. When it comes down to business decisions 90% compliance now wins out over 100% compliance sometime in the indeterminate future.
I am not saying I agree with these views and as I stressed I am behind Mozilla both for practical and philosophical reasons. But as a developer who deals with the average computer user daily I have little hope that the masses will accept Mozilla when they already have IE on their machines. To educate the end users and corporate managers who determine enterprise software (not the developers or the coders that sites like this cater to) that it is in their best interests to use Mozilla after release, is the real task.