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After the Software Wars Paperback – February 20, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: keithcu press (February 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0578011891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0578011899
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.7 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,178,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I feel ashamed to have paid for this book.
Mikael Falkvidd
As others have said, the book is not particularly well-written and lacks structure.
I didn't even finish the book, thought I tried.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
The existence of free software is an anomaly. It does not fit our assumptions about what must be private property and what should be free to all. Keith Curtis's After the Software Wars is hard to put down because it makes a passionate case that software should be treated like the free exchange of ideas in the world of science. The book manages to consistently upset our industrial age assumptions about proprietary software. Many, including myself, would point out that the demise of proprietary software is not a done deal and would argue that software is a combination of freely exchanged science and proprietary applied science. But Curtis's argument is based in experience (11 years programming at Microsoft) and like a good lawyer arguing one side of a case he forces us to consider the merits of his position.To interested computer users like myself who are not programmers, he convincingly peels back the layers of the software development process so that we can see the strengths of free software (and the weaknesses of proprietary software) very clearly indeed.

During his time at Microsoft Curtis saw Windows struggle with the expensive limitations of the closed industrial model while its free rival - Linux - consistently improved relative to Windows to the point where he is now quite happy to use only Linux. (I have used it as my main operating system for over a year and agree it compares favorable to Windows in most ways). The book is also timely because it asks us to take seriously a clearly less expensive and arguably better approach to software development at a time when economic stress makes it particularly relevant to do so.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Scharfman on August 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've been a huge fan of open-source for a very long time. I found Curtis' had a great number of very good insights but lacked a unifying structure or discipline. As a result, a lot of what he writes is far less insightful, or interesting.

The book reads like a collection of loosely related blog posts. Perhaps that would have been the better style for this kind of book. Curtis is obviously very smart and well informed. Like other intelligent blogger-style-writers such as Joel Spolsky, Curtis hits on a number of interesting topics.

As another review mentioned, Curtis' book is billed as a Microsoft veteran's perspective on open-source. Curtis does write from this perspective in some chapters. Those chapters are perhaps the most interesting of the entire book. It is this ability to consider political implications and technical that constitute the book's highlights.

However, as the book progresses, Curtis turns his focus away from natural economic and technical advantages of open-source and starts to slip into a ideologically-driven critique/screed against technical decisions or policy of for-profit companies and what he perceives as their missteps.

I definitely believe that Curtis' views that he offers in the first half of the book are worth a read. His descriptions of a few issues are great:
* Linux in general. Both from a conceptual standpoint, and a highlevel technical standpoint, Curtis shines a light on Linux. He improved the context and facts with which I understand Linux, and its economic advantages.
* Wikipedia and the power of open models, and shared knowledge which Wikipedia has brought to the fore and which has proven remarkably more powerful than alternatives.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tom Reid on August 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm a huge exponent of Open Source and an IT industry (Sun Microsystems in particular) veteran, so this book was of interest to me. I agree with the other reviewers who stated that Curtis is good on expanding on the top level principles of open source and why community developed software will always be better software, but the book lacks structure, tends to go off on tangents, contains some very sloppy writing and "opinion" dressed up as fact.

Frankly I'm pretty annoyed that I paid money for this book, as at times, it does seem like a collection of barely thought out blog posts thrown together with minimal thought. It's ironic that Curtis is such a fan of Wikipedia, as many of his claims would, I'm sure, be edited out of Wikipedia, if he tried to write them there.

A particularly ludicrous example can be found on page 231, at the beginning of the "Open Document Format" chapter. The first paragraph manages to contain two "I have heard that...." statements.

Particularly ludicrous is the statement that.."I have heard that every corporate purchase in the UK involves the creation of an Excel spreadsheet at a stage of the process". When I was at college, any lecturer marking a paper I had written, would have immediately struck out any insertion by me of a "I have heard that statement", so why Curtis believes he can charge money for a book that contains unreferenced claims like this that are impossible to verify, is beyond me. I lived in the UK for the first 38 years of my life and can state this claim is just plain stupid and it seems like Curtis prints statements in a book from stuff he just believes to be true.
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