In the great Free vs. Open vs. Commercial software battle, is there room for another model? All 3 mentioned have their share of (+)'s and (-)'s. Can there be another model that addresses a specific audience who have been ignored so far. Allow me to explain. (Definitions of Free/Open/Commercial/Freeware software taken from http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/categories.html
I am thinking on the lines of a Pre-OS model. IMO, the new model would have the following salient features:
1. The software would be completely free, i.e. Zero purchase price (Are there no takers for 'Free as in Free Beer' software?) The bottom line is that using this Pre-OS license, people can use the software AS they want. No issues of free if your product will be free, commercial if your product will be commercial an aspect of OS that is of particular concern to many.
2. Zero support cost. There could be a paid support model, but users need to have access to a central repository where they can post queries and request for changes to the product in addition to actually getting free product support; all this FOC.
3. The individual / individuals / company responsible for the (so far) commercial software, openly states that it would go open source as soon as it has a certain number of users/downloads. This number could be 10000, 100000 or 1 million, thats immaterial. Once the number has been reached, the software is opened at a particular place.
This ensures that the software, once it is opened, has a better chance of survival than if it would be opened straightaway. (Logic: ...mmnnnn.... ok.... more users from more downloads and more developers/committers from more users (once the software is opened.)
4. The advantage of this model is that it sets the base for a product to be made OS. It allows developers to use the product in a real environment and actually use the software to build applications over or around, without the hassles of licenses.
Net-Net, use the software to learn about it, use it to evaluate it, use it to compare it with other products, use it to develop applications/products around, heck, use it for anything. And dont pay a dime.
Maybe there is more clarity that this model needs; but I still feel (for whatever it is worth) that it offers certain benefits that the other 3 models dont. I do not want to raise a philosophical debate to be raised here; god knows we have had enough of that ;0)
Just a random thought that came to me. Comments? Criticisms?