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Open.NET — .NET Libraries Go "Open Source" 310

An anonymous reader writes "whurley just posted a blog about Microsoft's announcement To Make .NET Libraries available under a crippled 'Open Source' program using their new Microsoft Reference License. The post includes the official pr doc from Microsoft as well as several points about how this really isn't open source. One example: If a developer finds a bug in the code, rather than fixing it themselves and submitting a patch to the community they'll be encouraged to submit feedback via the product feedback center."
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Open.NET — .NET Libraries Go "Open Source"

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  • Could be worse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by east coast ( 590680 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @01:59PM (#20840467)
    they'll be encouraged to submit feedback via the product feedback center

    In some ways I'd rather see these things organized "under one roof". As long as the product feedback center is responsive I don't think this is going to be a big deal for most.
  • Unemployable? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @02:05PM (#20840575)
    Then there's the fascinating question of future employment prospects once you've seen the "crown jewels." A key part of copyright law is whether you've had the opportunity to copy the material rather than recreate it (clean room.) Keeping your developers "uncontaminated" can be a tricky business.

    Being exposed raises some serious issues regarding the future employability of the "exposed" developers.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @02:10PM (#20840665)

    ...this really isn't open source. One example: If a developer finds a bug in the code, rather than fixing it themselves and submitting a patch to the community they'll be encouraged to submit feedback via the product feedback center."

    This doesn't seem that odd to me. Anyone else know of a major open source project where your patch of the day is guaranteed to end up in main line code?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @02:21PM (#20840853)
    Also interesting is section 3(B):

    (B) If you begin patent litigation against the Licensor over patents that you think may apply to the software (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit), your license to the software ends automatically.

  • Re:Could be worse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaymanIslandCarpedie ( 868408 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @02:26PM (#20840947) Journal
    Fair enough, but Microsoft is trying to get street cred through a disingenuous use of the term "open source".

    Except if you'd read TFA you'd see MS never even mentions the term "open source" or anything like it. They are very clear on what is and isn't offered and it being open source is certainly not one of thier cliams. That term come from a blog.
  • by blincoln ( 592401 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:23PM (#20841857) Homepage Journal
    Being able to see the source means that you can take the present tool kit and work around any bugs in a deliberate manner. Whereas without the ability to see the code you have to hope that the bug is what you think it is.

    I would go one step further and say that it also lets you understand the behaviour of the framework where the documentation is inadequate or missing. I can see this being very useful, especially for those of us who like to fool about with less-commonly-used parts of .NET.
    I also think that in the larger view, this is a great indication of shifting mentalities at Microsoft. I was pretty surprised to read "The security of the .NET Framework does not depend on the obscurity of the .NET Framework source code" in one of their press releases.
  • Re:Viral license (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stinerman ( 812158 ) <nathan.stine@gmail.cTEAom minus caffeine> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @03:51PM (#20842321) Homepage

    If you ever work on Mono, could the fact that you have looked at Microsoft's source become some basis for a lawsuit?
    Looking at a copyrighted work and then making a similar copyrighted work is completely legal. Otherwise, any of us who watched a James Bond movie would not be able to make our own spy movies. Copyrights aren't patents. Copyright infringement only occurs when you copy works you don't have the rights to copy. Think of looking at the source and then making your own version an analog to "putting it in your own words" like you had to do in secondary school with book reports and the like.

    That was in the theoretical world. In the real world, looking at the source and then using that to get implementation ideas is a good way to get sued. Yeah, you probably would have a really good case that you didn't actually copy any Microsoft code into Mono, but the suit itself might bankrupt you. For instance, look at ReactOS. I'll bet they have a completely clean implementation (in that no one working on the project has seen any of the source) of the Win32 API, even though it isn't strictly necessary. This is simply to avoid legal problems.
  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @04:20PM (#20842797) Homepage

    It does introduce a big problem, though. Suppose someone's seen Microsoft's code, and in code they've written there's a stretch that's suspiciously similar to Microsoft's code. How does one go about proving that they didn't copy that code from Microsoft's in violation of the license? Access may be great for the programmer themselves, but if I'm not them and I'm using their code I suddenly acquired a big headache. And for me this isn't a theoretical excercise, I've been caught up in a lawsuit about exactly that sort of illicit propagation of code. I'd have to recommend not employing anyone for .NET work who's agreed to that license, and not using any .NET code created or touched by anyone who has, unless and until we've gotten our own license covering the Microsoft code in question. Anything else leaves too many legal question marks that're too easily avoided by just not tempting fate.

  • by Mongoose Disciple ( 722373 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @04:28PM (#20842907)
    Out of curiosity, how much work have you done with Java and C#?

    C# is to Java as Java is to C++ as C++ is to C on to infinity. To say that C# is just a copy of Java is about as much true and about as much false as saying Java is just a copy of C++. It is, and it isn't.

    In each case you have a "new" language created based strongly on an old one, benefiting from the "mistakes" of the previous language.

    The tricky part is, what's a mistake in the design of a language varies depending on your perspective and what you're trying to do it with -- and so the "evolved" language ends up better for some tasks and worse for others. Java addresses a ton of things that C++ doesn't do well (or require a much more seasoned C++ developer to do well), at the cost of becoming unsuitable (or at least, less suitable) for some uses, such as embedded programming or high-end game programming.

    C# is that same kind of quasi-evolution from Java. It makes some things a lot easier to get right, but at a cost of giving up some of the things that are good about Java. The key here is that the differences between the two aren't as much in the base language's syntax as in the core frameworks/libraries that are built around them. That's what makes the chance to see more of what makes those libraries tick and why they made the design decisions they did interesting.
  • by AJanuary ( 746139 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @05:02PM (#20843357) Homepage
    I think a lot of people misunderstand the purpose behind Microsoft doing this. This is to aid debugging by allowing you to see what that mysterious function is actually doing. The fact this then makes it easy for people to report bugs is a very welcome by-product.
  • Re:Unemployable? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by linkedlinked ( 1001508 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @05:06PM (#20843419)

    Really, this is nothing if not a blow to Mono and Novell. I've worked for MS in the past, and due to my 3-month stint there, I've been turned away from contributing to several open source projects [Mono and the linux kernel included]. In IRC chat on #mono, several folks told me that "they'd rather not risk accepting work from anyone who *may* have *ever* seen any of the .Net source code." This new release of source is concerting, for exactly that reason.
  • Re:Could Be Better (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Frostalicious ( 657235 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:38PM (#20846225) Journal
    What issues are you talking about exactly? I've worked with .Net for six years and am unaware of "all kinds of issues"

    Maybe he's talking about the IDE. I've run into lots of junk that hasn't been fixed for years. Things like .lic files becoming corrupted, loosing the ability to type non-word characters, source safe integration breaking, files in the .Net temporary directory getting locked, and projects loosing the ability to load DLLs. These are all design time problems, so my impression was they got a low priority and MS just decided to let us live with it.
  • Re:Could Be Better (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oliverthered ( 187439 ) <(oliverthered) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @06:34AM (#20849511) Journal
    I've worked with .Net for six years and am unaware of "all kinds of issues"

    What have you been doing? I've had all kinds of issues, from network connections being dropped even though they weren't, to the encryption libraies randomly (about one in 100,000 times) incorrectly encrypting a block, to projects that will only compile in release mode and not debug mode, to those stupid web projects that were broken from their inception, to code that runs find when compiled in debug mode but when in release mode (even with the same intermediate code) doesn't execute some of the blocks of code causing an error.

    That's only the tip of the iceberg (especially when you include all the VStudio issues) and I've only been working with .NET for 2 years. (I would add that I've never had those kind of problems with Java or just about anything else I've worked with)
  • by djelovic ( 322078 ) <dejan@NoSPAm.jelovic.com> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @07:01AM (#20849661) Homepage
    Jesus fucking Christ, some people on Slashdot cannot hear the word Microsoft, a company of fifty thousand people with a shitload of diverse opinions, without thinking everything they do is part of some incredibly complex Machiavellian plan.

    How about a simpler explanation:

    Programmers: Hey Microsoft, we want the source code so we can step through it. Java already ships with library source and that's awesome.

    Scott Gu: Sure, makes sense. Yo Ballmer, can I give them the source?

    Ballmer: No, competition will learn our secrets for it.

    Scott Gu: They already can see the source using Reflector, plus most of the runtime using the Rotor source. This would just let them debug easier thus making their life on Windows easier thus increasing the number of apps that run well on Windows thus increasing Windows sales.

    Ballmer: OK then. I like more salez.

    Ballmer: Developerz, developerz, developerz.

    Scott Gu: OK, here's the source dudez.

    Programmers: About fucking time! Thanks dude, this is great news for us.

    Slashdot morons: It's a conspiracy! Didn't you see The Ring? Whoever sees the source dies seven days later.

  • How C# came to be (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nurgled ( 63197 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @07:46AM (#20849841)

    Back when Sun was first pushing Java, Microsoft tried to build a platform on top of it. Microsoft had, once apon a time, a product called J++ which was essentially Java with some neat new features such as delegates. J++ was designed by Anders Hejlsberg, who was brought to Microsoft from Borland primarily to work on J++ as Microsoft's next-generation platform.

    Sun objected vehemently to Microsoft's extended version Java. I can't say I really blame them, since Microsoft should perhaps have worked with Sun to get these extensions adopted as features of the standard Java rather. Nonetheless, Microsoft was left with a plan to move to what they would later call "managed code" but no platform to build it on.

    C# and the .NET VM are the fallout from this. It's no coincidence that the unique features of C# are quite similar to the new features Microsoft added to Java in J++. It's also no coincidence that Anders Hejlsberg is the lead designer of the C# language. While I agree that it's not really fair to call C# a direct "copy" of Java, it's certainly Microsoft's answer to Java; it's unlikely that C# would exist today had Sun allowed Microsoft to build their platform on top of Java.

  • Re:Could be worse (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LeninZhiv ( 464864 ) * on Thursday October 04, 2007 @07:50AM (#20849875)
    Interesting. I had always assumed the opposite: "bastard" being used as derogatory first and foremost by wives whose husbands had bastard children (very common historically, especially among the nobility and wealthy who would often provide for their bastard children). The wives would be very severe with the bastards and denigrate them in front of the rest of the household, and try to get others to do the same, in order to gain as much as possible for their own, legitimate, children. (And also out of jealousy for the mistresses.)
  • by segfault_0 ( 181690 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:28AM (#20850701)
    Look at the progress made by the open-source community, Microsoft is releasing source code for big projects - even if it is under undesirable licenses. The concept of open source has permeated Microsoft to the point where they feel they need to open up some to compete - a big victory, even if not complete, for the OSS community in general - IMHO: nice work guys/girls, keep it up.

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