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Microsoft Project replacement tops 500,000 downloads (UPDATED)

How does Projity track all those users of its software?

While perhaps no indication of what these companies are buying, it's still interesting to discover that Bank of America, Hewlett-Packard, General Electric, IBM, Siemens, Toshiba, Honeywell, and Nortel have downloaded and installed Projity's OpenProj, an open-source replacement for Microsoft Project.

They're not alone. As Projity CEO Marc O'Brien recently told's Tina Gasperson, 500,000 individuals have downloaded OpenProj to date.

Perhaps most intriguing in all of this is that Projity knows which companies have downloaded and installed its software, since it can't get that information from Sourceforge, from which individuals download the software. (It could, of course, be the case that each of the companies noted above is a paying customer, but since several of these are unlikely to serve as public references....) I'm guessing that Projity has some sort of a "call home" feature in its project, or perhaps a simple web bug that registers with Projity each time a page is refreshed.

If the latter, it becomes doubly interesting when you consider Projity's license: CPAL. In this case, CPAL might prohibit users from removing the very web bug that Projity uses to track their use of the software.

Marc or someone else care to comment on how the tracking is managed? I'm sure a range of open-source companies would love to learn who is using their software, provided it doesn't abrogate a user's control of their privacy.

UPDATE: Marc O'Brien, CEO of Projity, emailed me to clarify the privacy issues I raised above:

I was disappointed you choose to raise issues that are erroneous and really counter productive for the open source success of OpenProj. ALL companies mentioned and all companies that we know are using OpenProj and Project-ON-Demand have provided us with their contact information. We do not know of ANY company using OpenProj or Project-ON-Demand who has not proactively given us their contact information.

Thanks for the clarification, Marc, and congratulations on getting these exceptional customers. That says a great deal about the quality of the software.