An Open Source Software is a type of software in which the source code and additional copyrights are provided to the user to allow him or her to modify and/or redistribute the software. Such privileges provided to the users allow them to have access to the software’s design, implementation and building details. Open Source Software is usually confused with freeware. A freeware or “free” software is a type of computer software which is acquired at no cost. However, freeware do not have source codes. Web 2.0 is an intersection of various web applications that aims at increasing the exchange of information through the internet (Sobh & Elleithy, 2010). It allows users to freely interact with one another through media dialogues. Cloud Computing, on the hand, refers to the use of internet and a remote server to store data and other related applications. It allows both individual and business users to have access to data and run applications without necessarily installing such programs in their computers.
Impacts of Open-Source Software, Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing
In my view, the development and use of Open Source Software, Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing technologies are here to stay. In fact, there are more advancement in the technologies today than there was when they were introduced into the market. The development of Open Source Software, Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing came as a great achievement for many software developers and end-users. However, many questions have been raised as to whether it was really an achievement or a course of action that would generate more problems than solutions.
The creation of Open Source Software has seen the software industry experience both positive and negative impacts, some of which have had adverse effects to the industry itself and the economy at large. At its inception and introductory stages, questions and puzzles revolved around its ability to work economically, that is, its capability to reduce operational costs. Many users were concerned with the potential or capability of Open Source Software to run multiple programs in their computers.
From an optimist’s point of view, the incremental cost of adding a feature in Open Source Software is much smaller than cost of entire development of new software. Open Source Software has allowed consumers to add more modifications that suit their needs. Such modifications also make the software compatible with the existing systems of the final users. More features can be added by organizations that require those features. Additionally, the additional modifications also form a strong foundational basis for future development of similar software programs. Open Source Software modifications are made easy by the availability of the source codes. This provides users with room for democratic actions to improve the system.
Despite all these positive contributions, the opponents of open sources software viewed it as a detriment to the software industry and the economy. It was reported that numerous proprietary software companies experienced drastic drops in their profits and revenues. The huge sums of money that were once generated by propriety software organizations through licenses, software activate and software product keys were all gone. They also lost control over the features of their creative innovations (Kavanagh, 2004).
In addition, Open Source Software is not capable of supporting a mass market. This is because various consumers have different needs. No single Open Source Software can thus be developed to meet such needs and preferences. On the other hand, Cloud Computing has resulted into job loss at the software companies because the numerous consumers now opted for centralized data storage systems. Users of Cloud Computing technology do not have to purchase computer programs anymore, provided they can have access to a network or the internet.
According to Microsoft Incorporation, having the source code of software makes it vulnerable to malicious practices such as hacking and cyber crimes (Tapscott & Williams, 2008). They also argued that al large adoption of open source software will render many programmers jobless. In my view, however, these claims by Microsoft might be threats to enable it maintain dominance and monopolistic behaviors in the software industry. It is an indication of Microsoft’s fear of competition.
In my view, the development of Open Source Software resulted into more benefits than evils. It has proved to be a sustainable improvement in the software industry, with great and tremendous rewards to the final users. Even though jobs might have been lost in software development companies due to the introduction of Open Source Software, the benefits reaped from Open Source Software are much higher than those that would otherwise be reaped from proprietary software.
In my opinion, the perception that Open Source Software industry was unsustainable could have emerged from misunderstandings of the innovations in the software industry. Usually, people are resistant to change. As put across by Tapscott and Williams, the Open Source Software was a great gift to the economy. It gave computers programmers a chance to show their creativity and to have their work appreciated. It was a great source of innovation and creativity (Tapscott & Williams, 2008).
Furthermore, I may compare the development of open source with the creation of open-market economies. It opened room for stiff competition amongst the industry players. This consequently resulted into production of better software programs with high performance capabilities and ability to meet the varied needs of customers. Proprietary software did not allow people to think outside or beyond the vendors or programmers viewpoint. The consumers were forced to buy what was in the market, regardless of whether what they have purchased could meet their needs or not. In most cases, this resulted into consumer dissatisfaction. Software should be developed to meet the consumers’ needs. People were searching for an alternative to proprietary software. They wanted some freedoms of how the software should look like, features it should posses as well as the types of functions a software should perform.
Moreover, customizing and tailoring Open Source Software as per the needs of the end-users is much easier than modifying proprietary software. This is because the software developers often work closely with the users hence capable of knowing what they want or do not want in the final software developed.
In my view, the Web 2.0 does not have any special features that make it more advance than the old version Web 1.0, except for its ability to allow users to interact freely. It uses the same technologies that Web 1.0 uses and thus does not symbolize any technological advancement. Cloud Computing, on the other hand, has enabled businesses to divert they their capital expenditures to profitable investments. The expenses that were incurred in acquisition of software have drastically reduced. Additionally, Cloud Computing also offers more reliable services as compared single computer software. This is because the companies that provide Cloud Computing services employ highly qualified professionals who assist the users in receiving quality services.
I would also conclude that the impacts of open source and “free” software developments in the industry might not be short lived. This is because more and more people are today opting for and prefer Open Source Software to proprietary software. This is due to another of factors such as low total cost of ownership, improved levels of security and reduced dependence or reliance on software vendors.