Mozilla Firefox 2 Beta 2 Milestone Released
Friday September 1st, 2006
#76 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Please enhance
Monday September 18th, 2006 11:23 AM
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I agree with this view in principle and I would answer in some cases yes but in general, no.
The thing is that while in OSS the developers code firstly for themselves, we are talking about themselves as users of course. And since anyone with a particular need proficient enough to implement it can, chances are general users' needs will coincide with some developer's. So I think it mostly boils down to priorities: what features are implemented early and thus who the software is initially useful to (the developers' problems in OSS, the problems had by most people and / or people with most money first in commercial software.)
On the other hand, there comes a point where some software fits a particular user's needs pretty well and adding more is not necessarily of value to him. At that point, I believe OSS software's value will still tend to grow while commercial software's will tend to start dropping. Why? Because in this case, updates that this kind of user will need or want are security and bug fixes as well as performance and usability improvements. In many (most?) cases, he will still need to update the software due to these concerns. OSS projects maintainers will love those kinds of users that don't complain and don't require (much) support, whereas companies wont. (Most) software companies don't make their money maintaining old products or versions, they make money selling you shiny new stuff. And, especially once they become dominant in their market, they will tend to try various tactics to "provide incentives" for the user to upgrade. Format incompatibilities, essential security upgrades degrading stability or features in older version, complex and intrusive registrations, DRM, etc.
But there is also the case of commercial companies leading OSS projects... In this case there should be more interest in implementing popular requests, while keeping the safety and motivation of knowing the project can be forked if the coders' needs are overlooked. And I think one could argue that, perhaps ironically, the MoFo / MoCo is overlooking the coders' interest and opinion too much, which hurts the users' interest because it discourages contributions that could be beneficial to them.
Software bloat and complexity are another matter... OSS may tend to have it from the start more as each coder implements his pet niche features, but commercial projects gets it in the end too, as they look for more users and markets to expand to. YMMV.