Microsoft's .NET Poison Pill?

Earlier today, Microsoft said that it will make available .NET Framework libraries under a "Reference" license. Anyone accepting the license agreement would be able to look at the code but not modify or redistribute it. The question: Would anyone really want to open this Pandora's Box? My colleague Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols sure doesn't think so. "Microsoft's so-called opening up of .NET Framework is setting a trap for open-source programmers," he asserts. "Open-source developers should avoid this code at all costs."

SJVN's conclusion: Anyone viewing the source code could later be accused of using code or concepts in other projects. This is one situation where the phrase, "What you don't know can't hurt you," really applies. For some developers, looking into this code could be the same as looking into the abyss. The risk is greatest for commercial and open-source developers and least for those doing in-house corporate applications. Microsoft isn't much in the business of suing its customers, but the company has already laid claim—assertion of 235 patent violations—against open-source software. Microsoft has the means and incentive to sue open-source developers, and .NET Framework code could make the assault that much easier.

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News source: MS-Watch

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17 Comments

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is not an idiot (I wish he was) HE IS THE EDITOR OF LINUX WATCH !!!!
And ALL his statements (and opinions) are BIASED in the extreme always against anything to do with microsoft.
Have a look at this lot.

http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2190228,00.asp (the current article)
http://www.desktoplinux.com/articles/AT8288296398.html (an early take on vista)
http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS3073255522.html
http://desktoplinux.com/articles/AT9222245906.html
http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS7747489300.html
http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS2298921709.html
http://www.desktoplinux.com/articles/AT7798707143.html
http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS9210850677.html

Here is his home at Desktop-Linux:
http://www.linux-watch.com/articles/AT6147270486.html

Additional columns:
http://www.linux.org/news/reporter/00070.html

I have tried to post this on Microsoft Watch three times and have not been allowed to do so.


I don't see how sharing the code can be harmful. I for one think a code in which a company invested millions of dollars to write is solely theirs, anyone else should not be able to alter it, or distribute it. Letting us see the code can only help us

saifullahbeg said,
I don't see how sharing the code can be harmful. I for one think a code in which a company invested millions of dollars to write is solely theirs, anyone else should not be able to alter it, or distribute it. Letting us see the code can only help us

It's fine for .NET devs, the point is that the code shouldn't be used in 3rd party projects like Mono. Microsoft is trying to give open-source devs a rope for them to hang Linux with.

Exactly - in fact, from the above link:

People developing their own CLI implementations will find the Shared Source CLI an indispensable guide and adjunct to the ECMA standards

oh come on, another perfect exampel of let's bash Microsoft". They don't release theire sources? booooo! They release their sources? booooo! pffff...

As for not modifying the code, I can at least see one vey good reason for it: avoiding diferent branches of .NET being compiled an redistributed in the wild. This is a very nice opporunity for younger developers to understand some more low level stuff, I learned a lot of things in my early years checking how MFC would do this and that.

Thank you Microsoft, that's the only thing people should say when reading the news.

This is not the first time. If SJVN is an idiot. He hasnt even used VC++ 6.0 with MFC/ATL/WTL where we had this debugging with Visual Studio 6.0. Please guys, form an anti-SJVN and we will pull down this idiot !

SJVN's conclusion: Anyone viewing the source code could later be accused of using code or concepts in other projects.

This never really happened with the MFC, WTL, ATL, or some of the runtime libraries, despite all these having source code provided under similar terms by Microsoft. Why should it happen now?

I don't think MS is restorting to these things too much, unless they have very good evidence to back them up, like chunks of code quite obviously being ripped right out.

night_stalker_z said,
Whats the point of looking at it and not being able to use it? They can sue for just about anything even looping from 1 to 10.

Why would they sue? They're doing this so devs using VS2008 who are writing apps that can now debug their code and the .NET base libs so they can better understand where something has gone wrong. You don't have to redistro .NET with your app like some GNU program. I don't see why OSS people seem to think this is a poison pill? Or are they just looking at some way to moan about another thing MS is doing?

The fact is, you can look at it, it has notes about what's going on, this helps people making .NET apps to make better ones and fix any bugs in their code but also if they find a bug in the .NET libs they can tell MS about it. So what if they can't change it or fix it themselfs? The fact you can find it and let MS know so they can fix it works out also. Looking at this code should also be a big help for Mono and so on.

night_stalker_z said,
Whats the point of looking at it and not being able to use it?

Reminds me of my ex-gf... she told me that I could look but don't touch, that made me crazy as hell... :mad:

Funny how Microsoft labels this as "OPEN SOURCE".

Azmodan said,
Reminds me of my ex-gf... she told me that I could look but don't touch, that made me crazy as hell... :mad:

Funny how Microsoft labels this as "OPEN SOURCE".

Funny how you haven't bothered to RTFA. Nowhere does Microsoft state this as being open source. They in fact explicitly say that this ISN'T open source.

Whats the point of looking at it and not being able to use it?

Uhh, it's awesome for developers in helping with .NET application debugging, perhaps...? This is also quite obviously the main purpose in doing this, since the trace logs will tie into this source code.

It's often kinda useful to see the sequence of events that led up to an exception in .NET-land, and not just have the exception code to go by.

With as little insight as you show, I'm not even sure you ARE a developer, and then I wonder what interest you take in these news besides to look for opportunities to bash Microsoft at. This is like entering a web development discussion and not having touched web development, just to bash a browser for not supporting feature X, not really knowing what it's for.

Funny how Microsoft labels this as "OPEN SOURCE".

They don't! Seriously.

Stebet said,

Funny how you haven't bothered to RTFA. Nowhere does Microsoft state this as being open source. They in fact explicitly say that this ISN'T open source.

I've read that from this OTHER ARTICLE.

Azmodan said,

I've read that from this OTHER ARTICLE.

And what you read is pretty much the same thing these guys are saying. It's not open source, and the Microsoft announcements he displayed show no mention of "open source", other than them simply revealing the source code. Microsoft would have to do more to make it open source, but that's not what they're trying to do; or at least not yet.

Releasing the code does nothing really. If the guy that wrote the article actually knew anything about how the framework works he would have known that the 'code' to all core assemblies have more or less always been available through reflection.

The only thing this really brings to the table that isn't available today is access to developer code comments and the ability to step/debug through the core assembly code.

I agree, this is a really stupid article. It doesn't even seem to understand WHY the code is released under this license, and what Microsoft's intentions are.