Is there such a thing as a free lunch after all? I've been thinking about this a lot since Ed posted his tongue-in-cheek blog entry on the difficulties of valuating the cost of software components in the face of commoditization.
Yes, even entire solutions are sometimes "free". Just today, for example, Embarcadero announced the release of a community edition of EA/Studio, an Eclipse-based business process modeling tool. Similarly, Sybase announced "free use" of their Eclipse-based database development tool in 2008. What are the odds that two vendors of Eclipse-based data tools would make such announcements on the same day? Coincidence? I think not! Clearly it is a sign of the times...
When is free really free? It's a matter of perspective, isn't it? Users don't have to pay money for these tools, but it obviously costs somebody (commercial vendors) something to build them... They say that "the best things in life are free". I'd argue that "best" is the more important word in that expression. It's the quality of these tools that will differentiate them... and ultimately, the marketplace will be the judge!
4 hours ago