By definition, open source software model is a refinement of strengths of already existing soft ware engineering models (Bitzer, 2006). This paper will discuss the various measures that can be taken so as to make open source software competitive. We will thus examine its attempts to glean the strengths from currently used soft ware engineering models while eliminating their identified weaknesses. The refinement is achieved through open communications and sharing of ideas between major developers of the Open Source Movement. The targeted areas of improvement of open source software include the model’s incremental, building and fix, and rapid prototype models. This would require proper communication system between the project maintainer, development team, and the users/debuggers. The users must therefore be viewed as key and given opportunity to suggest design flaw corrections (Bitzer, 2006). The proposed new features by the users should also be incorporated by the project developers.
Measures to make the open source software more competitive
It is agreed that open source software has the great potential of mainstreaming the market palace previously dominated by other products. Such products were Microsoft windows operating system and Office productivity suite. The Linux operating system, Mozilla’s Firefox web browser, and the Operating Office suite are the most often used open source applications (Bitzer, 2006). There is an observed increased use of the open source models in accessing of articles in the mainstream media. It is seen as a viable and credible alternative to proprietary software. It thus has a base for enhancing its competitiveness in the market. Raymond exploited the virtues of the open source development over the other traditional methods. He proposed that the users should be treated as co-developers. According to him, this is the major way of promoting rapid code improvement and effective debagging. Thus measures of detecting and correcting of security flaws and logical errors should be put in place. This makes open software more secure and enhances its future competitiveness (Bitzer, 2006).
Improving its Security: It is argued that the closed source practice by the Microsoft make it more attractive to hackers, script kiddies and the virus writers. The open source software developers should therefore take advantage of their being open to everybody. The open source community should also take measures to correct the notion spread by their opponents that they are insecure (Bitzer, 2006). However, the issue of security is debatable with scholars giving different views. Some scholars have opposed the view that Microsoft are more secure, noting the increasing reported cases of security holes identified and fixed by their developers. An example is the infamous Blaster Worm that ran wild on windows operating system in 2003. The proponents of this argument have even argued that Linux have been used in certain instances to heal Windows. Those for the open source have argued that the closed source software are not only ineffective in stopping malicious activity, but also prohibits the effective and efficient enhancements (Bitzer, 2006). These are positions that can be exploited by the open source software to enhance its competitiveness in the market.
Encouraging Community participation: The closed source software therefore has low number of developers compared to the open source software. The open source software can therefore continue to take advantage of the high number of the developers who have continuously participated in fixing their problems. This has resulted into improved quality of their services (Oz, 2009).
Ensuring Flexibility: It is argued that it is almost impossible to convince the closed source software to change anything. This is only possible after a number of people probably come together to convince the developers. In contrary, open soft software allows anybody to use the source code make their desired changes. The open source software can therefore utilize this advantage to win the participation of the members of the community in improving their products (Bitzer, 2006).
Cost: the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is increasingly becoming an important determinant of the decision making by the software users. Open source software is free except for the distribution charges. However, to reap from this advantage the developers of the open source software must convince their users (Bitzer, 2006). Various users are opposed to the open source software even if it is free. They argue that the window’s out-of-box functionality and its familiar and consistent GUI interface, reduces the staffing costs and therefore resulting into a low TOC. Many business people are today, for this reason, shifting to the Microsoft. An example is the Barclays Bank Chief technology Officer who cites the “terms of service” as his reason for choosing A Microsoft desktop over Linux alternatives (Oz, 2009). Another fact to be considered for the Open source software is the fact that most corporations have continued to purchase its services from the players in the open source market. Such players as IBM and Novell are attractive despite the fact that they charge both warranty and service agreements. This is irrespective of OSS offer of free distribution of Linux; The Open source software should therefore consider measures like increasing their typical hardware refresh period. This should be kept beyond the 3-4 years for the Windows-based system. This will ensure a significant effect on the total cost of ownership for Linux and increase its competitiveness (Oz, 2009). The developers can also maximize their benefit from the areas where they enjoy grater market share like the Apache web server. Apache’s security which makes it preferable over Microsoft products should be maintained and even further improved (Bitzer, 2006). Open software should also learn from the experience of the Mozilla foundation’s release of the first complete version of its new pared-down and standardized browser. The browser which has giving significant gains resulted from more effort put in providing a small, fast, and efficient design (Oz, 2009).
It is therefore clear that while market share is not an indication of quality of service, it should be closely analyzed by the open source software developers. The statistics shows that Microsoft still dominates the home PC and the business work station market with their operating systems and productivity software. Their application server and Exchange are also widely used. These are the areas for consideration for the realization of an improved performance by the open software. However it remains difficult to predict what the future holds for the open software. This is because of the financial might of the superior marketing techniques used by the proprietary software giants such as Microsoft. Its strength will therefore rely on the elimination of its perceived weaknesses and capitalization on its areas of strength. The developers of the open software should also invest in the awareness creation of their products. Such measures can ensure its future proliferation. However, as demonstrated by the Apache web server, the open soft products have rooms to increase its competitiveness. Their future will thus be determined to a larger extent by the strategic utilization of the identified superior open source products.