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13. Epilog: Netscape Embraces the Bazaar!

It's a strange feeling to realize you're helping make history....

On January 22 1998, approximately seven months after I first published this paper, Netscape Communications, Inc. announced plans to give away the source for Netscape Communicator. I had had no clue this was going to happen before the day of the announcement.

Eric Hahn, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Netscape, emailed me shortly afterwards as follows: ``On behalf of everyone at Netscape, I want to thank you for helping us get to this point in the first place. Your thinking and writings were fundamental inspirations to our decision.''

The following week I flew out to Silicon Valley at Netscape's invitation for a day-long strategy conference (on Feb 4 1998) with some of their top executives and technical people. We designed Netscape's source-release strategy and license together, and laid some more plans that we hope will eventually have far-reaching and positive impacts on the open-source community. As I write, it is a bit too soon to be more specific; but details should be forthcoming within weeks.

Netscape is about to provide us with a large-scale, real-world test of the bazaar model in the commercial world. The open-source culture now faces a danger; if Netscape's execution doesn't work, the open-source concept may be so discredited that the commercial world won't touch it again for another decade.

On the other hand, this is also a spectacular opportunity. Initial reaction to the move on Wall Street and elsewhere has been cautiously positive. We're being given a chance to prove ourselves, too. If Netscape regains substantial market share through this move, it just may set off a long-overdue revolution in the software industry.

The next year should be a very instructive and interesting time.

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