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Windows: The pit stop on the road to open source

Microsoft technology is becoming a bridge to open-source technology, and not a stopping point in and of itself.

Open-source content management and collaboration vendor Alfresco has released the latest results of its Open Source Barometer, a global survey of 25,000-plus respondents within the Alfresco community. The data is skewed by the fact that the participants are clearly interested in open source, Java, and other aspects of Alfresco, but some of the findings (Slideshare presentation) are intriguing, all the same.

For example, consider the fact that 64 percent of those evaluating Alfresco do so on Windows, but deploy on Linux, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, primarily. More interestingly, note these statistics:

  • 92 percent do not use or intend to use Silverlight (CNET has also highlighted Silverlight's tepid adoption);
  • 86 percent do not use or intend to use .NET/Web Parts;
  • 53 percent use or intend to use a Java architecture;
  • 52 percent use or intend to use AJAX;
  • In a follow-up with participants, Alfresco discovered that of those that evaluated on Linux, 64 percent went into production on Linux, while of the Windows users, only 21 percent went into production on Windows Server; and
  • Only 9 percent of those evaluating Alfresco on Windows use Vista.

It's not surprising that the survey of an open-source company should reveal indifference to Microsoft technology, but that's not what the survey suggests, in my opinion. Rather, I think it demonstrates that Microsoft technology has become mere furniture. It's not the center of attention anymore.

In other words, it's plumbing that nearly everyone has, but is only a brief stopping point on the way to other technology. This is highlighted by the fact that 66 percent of survey respondents indicated that the browser is their preferred application window for accessing content. Whatever the underlying operating desktop operating system, for most it's simply a means to running a browser to get to a server, which server generally runs Linux.

Disclosure: I work for Alfresco.