However, Russell said, if Windows was as open as Open Solaris then it would permit better support of Xen and other technologies to allow virtual servers to have both Windows and Linux virtual systems.
"There is the potential for an Open Windows OS to take some developers away from Linux. Some of the people who desire an OS that they can change or fix may be satisfied with Open Windows. But I believe that the number of such people is quite small.
"There is also the potential that the pool of people who are interested in programming might grow if they saw their OS as something that they can fix instead of being a black box that they can't change."
Russell said that while he could think of some ways that Open Windows would help and some ways that it could hurt none of these factors was significant. Hence the casual observer would probably notice no change.
He also pointed me to a tangential post on his own blog about what future Windows versions would be like; if things do go in that direction, then the question of providing source code would be null and void.
Debian developer Martin F. Krafft said, in his opinion, for a closed project to become a successful open-source project, it took two things. "It has to be a clear advantage over what's available already, and it has to be of reasonable and manageable code quality. Mozilla filled the first gap enough so that the second became less important. I don't think there's a gap anymore which Windows could fill, other than as a 'compatibility layer' for existing pieces of software (like most professional software and games, which only run on Windows).
"That aside, I am led to believe that the code is quite patchy in places and of such gigantic extents that it would probably not attract a large development team right away.
He said there was some stuff in Windows that would end up being ported to other interfaces and the kernel, so it would probably make a difference to FOSS, like any such act would make a difference.
"I don't think it would kill or revolutionise the existing projects or FOSS at large. FOSS is, after all, not software, but a community and a way of mind. Software is the main produce, or used to be, but that's changing already (music, videos, web 2.0 in general, ...)," Krafft said.
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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.