Microsoft today announced that they will license the Windows operating system source code…or at least major parts of it, in order to comply with the European Union court order instructing them to do so. It had been speculated that Microsoft might not comply with the order and continue to pay the enormous fines the EU has been levying.
Why I bring this up is that this has enormous potential for both good and ill for process (and effectively all) automation.
First, it makes it possible for automation vendors to make “custom” versions of the Windows operating systems that they can use to increase the proprietary nature of their offerings. You could, for example, only be able to run Company X’s HMI on specially selected computers sold by another Company X division, using the semi-proprietary “Copmpany X Windows.”
One of the arguments Microsoft made, and which was, in my view, completely devalued by the Church of Kill Bill is that Windows is a defacto standard operating system, and keeping the source code uneditable by anybody but the Windows Development Team was most importantly a way to ensure that (unlike the very bad old days of Unix…and some of the bad new days of Linux) an end-user who bought an application program would have more than reasonable assurance that it would run on any computer with the Windows operating system on it that met the minimum requirements for running that program.
It could be that those days are gone. This is NOT good news for end-users.
What do you think?