My view about this topic is the same when I think about book prices and copyright. A book is knowledge and knowledge must be shared to create development. But if the book is free, what would motivate some one to write one and by consequence create development?
The same is about software. I agree with nhgnikole when she says that the prices is too high and some people has as only option buy a copy to learn how to use and achieve noblest goal (a job for example).
But I also agree with Jeff. The software development involved too much effort and money from some people. Is fair charge some price and have a return on that. If it not happens, they have no more why create a new and better version.
The same disruptive change GOOGLE and some academic networking are making with knowledge, the Open Source and its General Public License are making with Software.
The power of COLLABORATION is behind this change, and will help to solve many other questions. For example: How fair is the price of a software license? How much cost a software (License + Implementation + Support)? How dependent of a software company (MS) I became when I use it in a large scale? What will happen if this company goes to bankrupt? Who will provide me support or change the platform once I have no access to the source code?
We have been developing a HR Open Source App for the past 3 years. The results, the way clients and developers join the idea is simply great. We have been helping small and middle size companies, who has no money to hire (license + implementation + support) expensive software, to improve their production level and become more competitive by using our free application (you pay only for the support, if you want). Just take a look at http://weblog.infoworld.com/openresource/archives/2009/02/open_source_erp.html
And its not only about OrangeHRM. A considerable number of other Open Source companies are contributing to this change as sugarCRM, OpenBravo, Linux, MySQL etc.
As a Open Source advocate, my opinion is that the power of collaboration and the appearance of Open Source will make all those questions and discussions irrelevant in a near future.
O range HRM Inc.
web : www.orangehrm.com
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Secaucus, NJ 07094
Open Source HR Management