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What Microsoft giveth, Jive taketh away

Microsoft and Jive have reached very different conclusions about what software they should be giving away, and to whom.

The Web has been aflutter with the news that through its new BizSpark program, Microsoft is seeding startups with its software to entice them to steer clear of open source. That's the view from OStatic and others that I've read, and it's probably true, at least in part.

Will it work? No. Good startups are always looking to save money, and will appreciate the "free production licenses for application hosting and management servers, including Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server, BizTalk Server and Systems Center and soon, Microsoft Dynamics CRM," as OStatic suggests. But they're unlikely to move to Windows from Linux, for example, because Linux is a long-term performance and cost choice, not a three-year "I'll use it because it's free...for now" choice (which is all that BizSpark gets new startups.

Interestingly, in the same week that Microsoft started doling out the software, collaboration vendor Jive started taking it away from open-source projects. As Orion Addis, Jive Software's sales representative covering the Bay Area, wrote to an open-source peer of mine:

We no longer offer free licensing of Clearspace, Clearspace Community, or Jive Forums to open source projects. We are only selling licensing moving forward. Clearspace Community licensing is listed at $xx,xxx per application server CPU per year or $xx,xxx a year in our hosting facilities for

Does this suggest some nefarious design on Jive's part, charging for software it used to give away gratis? No. I suspect it is simply an indication that Jive is looking to make money where it can, and probably incurred more cost than benefit in supporting open-source projects free of charge.

The two companies - Microsoft and Jive - arrived at very different conclusions as to what would drive sales for them. This will ever be the case, and it's what makes open source, in particular, so fascinating. One person's cancer is another person's freedom, as it were. The value of 'free' shifts and changes over time.