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A Microsoft Veteran Embraces Open Source

John Markoff of the New York Times blogs about an interesting new self-published book by a former Microsoft employee:

Keith Curtis has just written a book about the future of software.

That in itself isn’t unique. More unusual is that Mr. Curtis, an 11-year veteran of Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, believes deeply that open source is the future of software.

And while he says he holds no grudge against his former employer, in the long run, the company “is toast.”

His book, “After the Software Wars,” was published last month by, a Web-based publishing service that makes it possible for Mr. Curtis to give the first 1,000 readers the option of downloading a free version of the book (590 people have already taken advantage of the offer) or purchasing a paperback version for $19.97 (so far he has sold 11 copies, five of which were purchased by his mom).

He takes a programmer’s approach in “Software Wars,” attempting to systematically build a case that software can help pave the way for a 21st-century renaissance in many fields ranging from artificial intelligence (cars that drive themselves) to the human journey into space (space elevators).

For Mr. Curtis, the strength of open source software, and why it’s the future, is all about leveraging our collective intelligence.

After he left Microsoft, he installed a copy of the Linux operating system on a lark. His world was turned upside down. He spent three years exploring the open source world — reading, attending conferences, looking at source code and talking to the rank-and-file members of the open source community.

Mr. Curtis says he’s not bitter about his time at Microsoft, but the world has moved on. “I loved working there, learned an enormous amount, made a few shekels, and enjoyed the privilege of working alongside many brilliant minds. Like many things in life, it was fun while it lasted.”

I grabbed an electronic version of the book (PDF format). Looks really interesting.

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