Intuit has cast its lot with open source. Intuit? The guys with millions of small businesses that use its tax and accounting products? Intuit’s mid-market product, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, is going to be supported on Linux servers.

This is a move driven by Intuit’s market intelligence which says that 20 percent of QBES users are operating in the open source environment.

For those who, after all the hype about Linux and open source, and don’t know open source from open sores, this is a “Take that Microsoft” move which puts Intuit in the same camp as Sage Software, which last year said it  would be database agnostic. That means Sage will provide non-Microsoft database engines, and includes its recent decision to support MySQL, an open source product, in Peachtree.

Open source, despite the continuing popular misconception, is not free software. It is not owned by anyone. If I had the skill and could write software to meet standards, I could market “Bob Scott’s Linux.” I cannot market, “Bob Scott’s Windows.” Microsoft’s legal department would quickly become a pen pal.

The open source movement coincides with another development that I’ve articulated, and this week, saw K2 partner Randy Johnston embrace publicly in a conference speech. That’s the view that operating systems are obsolete.

I came to this conclusion through the Web Services movement. Web Services are essentially bits of technology that let computers exchange files with each other. I’ve spent the time torturing my Microsoft friends with, “If Web Services truly work, then operating systems are obsolete.” Beyond that, if you can get data via an Internet browser, do you care what operating system is being used on any Web site you visit?.

Johnston gets there through the developing move towards virtualization, which  means that computers can be set up as if there were more than one computer running in the same box, and that means they can run different applications inside that one chassis. Mainframes have done this for years.

I won’t get into Johnston ’s description of computing appliances, but the end result is that his belief you won’t need Windows or any other operating system in hardware with preloaded applications. Plus I already have friends who says that their Windows applications run better on their Macintosh systems than on their Windows PCs.

Microsoft may be a giga-billion dollar company. But it has its work cut out for it.


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