Should Open Source Applications Run On Windows?
There's been some interesting debate in the Open Source community regarding Open Source applications that run both on Linux and Windows. One camp feels most users select an operating system based on its available applications. If the applications people want are on Windows, they will tend to stick with Windows. Conversely, if the applications they want are only on Linux, they will eventually end up using Linux. By porting free software to Windows one increases the valuable applications on that platform. If Windows has Microsoft applications plus a stable of free software apps while desktop Linux has only the free software apps, why would anyone switch to Linux (and incur the training and data migration costs) when they already have all the software they need and want right? And as long as Microsoft can keep people on Windows Microsoft will gain the time needed to improve its applications and, most importantly, the supporting software stack.
The second camp feels that Open Source applications that run on both Windows and Linux is an important step in "mainstreaming" Open Source and Linux. Since most desktops run Windows, why not infiltrate (and infuriate) the Empire with Open Source applications such as Firefox and MySQL to "seed" the masses with the concept that Open Source is ready to be used beyond the intimidating world of the techies. Giving users the chance to use an Open Source application on Windows lets them get comfortable before migrating to Linux. Anyway, a transitional desktop (that runs Open Source applications on a Windows platform) is an important first step in migrating to a Linux desktop.
I was interested in posing questions on this topic to various people that work with, contribute to, or provide customer support and consulting for Open Source applications that run on Windows and Linux.
Marten Mickos, CEO, MySQL AB
Andy Astor: CEO, EnterpriseDB
David Boswell: Member, MozDev Community Organization