Dan Lyke pointed out this really great meditation on why one guy chose to go with Free Software rather than Micorosoft tools. (This is especially interesting to me today since a friend wrote to me today about free vs. proprietary software.) Maciej Ceglowski says:
The Microsoft recruiter wrote back, asking for pointers to people who are building search tools with MS products. Apparently most everybody she’s come across in the search engine world is working with open source tools. It’s very mysterious.
Dan has more thoughts, but I’ll just add mine here. I’m like Maciej Ceglowski: I love that I can just go fetch the tools I want to work with and begin building or playing around. No real worries about licensing (well, I’ve run into a technicality or two, but nothing big), no out-of-pocket expenses, and raving hordes of magnanimous co-developers.
Long term, what does this mean to the end user? If more developers find working with Open Source or Free Software tools, then more software will be created by people friendly to that type of licensing. They’ll be more likly to license their own software under freely-redistributable terms.
And, as time passes, the true viral nature of the GPL will show up. Most of the world’s software will be free.