I'm of a mind that open source software will, eventually, dominate the most common software uses we have today provided that the way we compute doesn't change radically. Mozilla has taken forever, but I believe the browser is quite good, at least on Windows (and I assume Linux). I've heard good things about Open Office, and I'm a weekly to monthly user of AbiWord and the Gimp. These are good apps.

MacWrite was a good app. Honestly, if Microsoft would stop changing the format of a Word doc [which MacWrite could import and write out, at least with MacLinkPlus], MacWrite 2.0 had everything I need in a word processor. Em@iler is another exmaple of a great app that never needed to improve, imo. Open source software can get to the point (and in some cases has) where the functionally it has doesn't need to improve. Then hopefully open, unchanging standards will slowly replace the proprietary de facto standards Microsoft has many of us using now.

Now the thing about open source software, no matter what Richard Stallman thinks he's saying, is that it doesn't easily make money. People like money. People need money to eat. People want money to buy cars and houses and Playstation 2's. Again, people like money. Even if Stallman has the high moral ground, he is [self-admittedly] an idealist.

Which makes me wonder if people will start making software based on GPL'd software that's nearly impossible to compile. Mozilla is difficult enough, and it's trying to be straightforward (granted I picked a relatively unfair case there). Think about it... the GPL says I have to give you the source. I can charge to compile the source, can't I? If I get an esoteric enough compilation routine, don't you need me almost as badly as you needed me before? Does the GPL encourage poorly designed code when people like money?

Anyhow, the main point here is that open source software will, some day, eventually rule the desktop. Once MS Word opens AbiWord format, you'll know we're close.

[Quick update: Forgot two of my favorite open source apps that I use quite a bit -- the "convert" function of Image Magick and, of course, vim.]