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.Net On Android Is Safe, Says Microsoft 377

An anonymous reader writes "With Oracle suing Google over 'unofficial' support for Java in Android, Microsoft has come out and said it has no intention of taking action against the Mono implementation of C# on the Linux-based mobile OS. That's good news for Novell, which is in the final stages of preparing MonoDroid for release. Miguel de Icaza is not concerned about legal challenges by Microsoft over .Net implementations, and even recommends that Google switch from using Java. However, Microsoft's Community Promise has been criticized by the Free Software Foundation for not going far enough to protect open source implementations from patent litigation, which is at the heart of the Oracle-Google case."
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.Net On Android Is Safe, Says Microsoft

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  • Safe from what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dreyergustav ( 1013913 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @02:57PM (#33396036)
    Some of the Oracle patents relate to Virtual Machines in general and not just the JVM. So how can Mono be safe from Oracle?
    • Re:Safe from what? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by yyxx ( 1812612 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @07:56PM (#33399454)

      Oracle doesn't have a patent on "virtual machines", they have a patent on specific technologies. So, the question is whether Mono violates Oracle's specific patents. Sun/Oracle's patents were mostly known at the time Microsoft designed the CLR, so there's a good chance that they designed around Oracle's patents. Dalvik, on the other hand, was created both to be Java compatible and also under the assumption that Sun was friendly towards open source systems.

      You can never be certain that a given piece of software violates no patents at all. But Mono seems in a pretty good position: Microsoft doesn't claim patents against it, and furthermore, it was designed to avoid patents by the other big player, Sun/Oracle. That's probably as good as it's ever going to get for these kinds of virtual machines.

  • Et tu brute? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JImbob0i0 ( 1202835 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @02:58PM (#33396048)

    Almost every single company that has had dealings with Microsoft has been stabbed in the back by them...

    IBM : OS/2
    Stacker : Doublespace
    Spyglass : Mosaic
    Sun : Java
    Everyone : plays4sure (DRM servers shut down leaving purchases useless)
    Go : Mobile technology (at least I think the company was called Go)
    Caldera : DR-DOS
    Novell : Wordperfect

    How many times does this have to happen before people see a pattern and avoid partnering with Microsoft? The bigger players can survive the knife between the shoulderblades... the smaller players *if they eventually get a payoff* still usually end up dead anyway.

    • Re:Et tu brute? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by stikves ( 127823 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @03:08PM (#33396194) Homepage

      (Going against my rule, and replying even though it will risk my karma a lot)...

      Unfortunately what you said is only partially true.

      For example:

      OS/2: Originally Microsoft developed Windows NT as OS/2 - a microkernel which was OS/2 on the front backward compatible with DOS and Windows, and switched to Windows, only after IBM started to show less and less interest in coding, and more interest in their process.

      Mosaic: Mosaic was open source originated at NCSA labs, and IE was developed by original Mosaic staff.

      Java: Microsoft did not develop .Net, until Sun sued them for license issues, effectively stopping them developing on Java. ... and others.

      A story is rarely single sided, but it's very hip to hit on MS on Slashdot...

      • Re:Et tu brute? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @03:26PM (#33396462)

        Java: Microsoft did not develop .Net, until Sun sued them for license issues, effectively stopping them developing on Java.

        I think you missed the part where Microsoft made Visual J++ with various extensions and a failure to pass the Java compliance tests. Fixing compliance would have been easy, if they just wanted to make a compatible Java(tm) implementation, but really this was their first attempt to shaft Sun.

        .Net is Microsoft's 2nd try...

        • Re:Et tu brute? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by benjymouse ( 756774 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @04:51PM (#33397668)

          At the time Java came with its own set of widgets, and it had a terrible reputation (deserved) for being slow. At the center of the conflict was Microsofts insistence that developers should be able to use native Windows widgets for GUI apps - otherwise it would risk tainting the Windows platform as slow and unresponsive (yeah - I know - even slower, ok?).

          To facilitate that they wanted developers to have the option to call native APIs directly. Library developers would then be able to make abstraction libraries which could take advantage of the rich Windows GUI (and COM) controls.

          Sun would have none of that. Microsoft wouldn't yield. Microsoft lost the lawsuit, and then went on to make a language the way they felt it should be made. With a way to call native APIs which is leaps and bounds better than the nazi-abstraction of Java. No glue code necessary, just pure metadata annotations.

          Sun went on with their own business and along comes IBM with Eclipse. Only IBM weren't too happy about the whole Swing deal. Java has definitely improved in speed, but on the GUI side all those gains (and more) had been eaten up by Swing. So IBM went for native GUI widgets with SWT.

          There was a reason Microsoft didn't want to fix their JVM so that it would pass the compliance tests. They lost (or settled?) and Sun got an insane amount of $$$. Microsoft created C# and .NET the way they though it should be.

          C# has evolved much faster than Java. And in some areas Suns "doubts" about whether such language features were feasible has been put to shame: Delegates, operator overloading, Native API (P/Invoke) marshalling, reified generics, value types etc.

      • Re:Et tu brute? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @03:27PM (#33396488) Journal

        About Java:

        You *DO* Remember that the main problem was with J++ and Microsoft trying to distort a standard (or at least, a standard they *signed* they would respect) to make it incompatible?

        Kind of how they made special Javascript or ActiveX extensions which broke the net??

      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @03:28PM (#33396498)

        IE was purchased by Microsoft. They didn't do some dirty trick, they found a company making a product they liked and purchased them. Not just the rights to their product, the brought on the developers and all that.

        DR-DOS wasn't a product that MS ripped off... It was a product that ripped off MS. MS-DOS launched in 1981. DR-DOS launched in 1989 and was version numbed to be the same as MS-DOS. They weren't breaking any laws or anything, but DR-DOS was designed to be their own DOS, compatible with MS-DOS.

        Wordperfect lost on its own merits. It was the be-all, end-all of office programs. However the developers failed to keep it up, failed to improve it, and Office eclipsed it. You ever try using it recently (it is still around, still in development)? It is a pile of crap. It lost because there was a superior competing product. You know, how capitalism is supposed to work and all that.

        I'm not claiming MS has never done anything underhanded. However people whine and bitch far too much. That a given product failed doesn't mean MS did anything wrong, it may just mean that the product sucked.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by JImbob0i0 ( 1202835 )

          Let's ignore the DR-DOS bit for a moment (there is a reason they lost the court case over that) and also ignore that MS-DOS was ripped form Q-DOS...

          You have the facts wrong on Internet Explorer. They licensed technology from Spyglass Inc for a small base fee plus a percentage of the royalties that would come from the revenue stream from IE. Then they gave IE away for free bundling it with the OS so that Spyglass got sweet F all compared to what was expected to be passed to them. There is a good reason Micro

      • Re:Et tu brute? (Score:5, Informative)

        by JImbob0i0 ( 1202835 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @03:38PM (#33396640)

        To answer your counter-points specifically....

        The back stab I was referring to for OS/2 wasn't Windows NT but rather Windows 95. As per the documentation put forward by IBM in the USA Vs Microsoft case ... and Microsoft eventually settled with IBM for the damage they caused them:

        http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2005070114163052 [groklaw.net]

        Fortunately IBM, of course, were large enough to survive that.

        Microsoft actually contracted with Spyglass to provide a royalty form Internet Explorer revenue in order to use Mosaic as a base... Microsoft then gave the product away free and therefore skipped out on said royalties. They eventually had to pay Spyglass a settlement for this action but not before sufficient damage was done and teh company did not survive - being bought out by OpenTV in 2000.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spyglass,_Inc [wikipedia.org].

        With Java Microsoft contracted with Sun to write their own Java VM for the Windows platform. They then added interfaces to the java.* namespace and changed behaviour in this namespace. As a consequence things written for Sun's Java would not run properly due to changes in what was expected to be standard and things written for Microsoft's Java VM were not likely to run in Sun's one. The issue came to a head since Microsoft used the Java name and logos... Note that Microsoft would have been okay if they had used their own microsoft.* or similar namespace... but then that would have made Sun's VM the preferred write once run anywhere target. Sun survived this and the result was Windows XP SP1a and the removal of the MS Java VM. Microsoft were free to continue to develop MS Java VM if they actually stuck to the specs... instead they produced .Net and C#.

        I'll let you google the references for that one yourself ;)

        It may be hip to hit on Microsoft on Slashdot... however there are occasions they deserve it (just as there are occasions they do not). I put it to you that the highlights I've picked from the past 10-15 years are points against them... and are far from an exhaustive list.

        • Re:Et tu brute? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @05:02PM (#33397806)
          I met a guy who worked for Microsoft on Visual J++ when it was initially compatible and he said there was quite the buzz to be the best "Java" there was. He then told me that all the Java project managers, included the Visual J++ ones were called to a meeting with Bill Gates. After that meeting, all current progress was stopped and they turned direction to a version of MS Java( not real Sun Java ) which used proprietary Windows calls and Visual J++ was changed to default to using those Windows specific APIs.

          I believe this meeting was mentioned in court documents where it was said the Bill Gates yelled out "does anyone remember Windows?". Court documents showed that Microsoft, as a company, did and was operate to protect their position in desktop operating systems. ie, screw developers, screw competition, they do what is best for profits and that means protecting Windows at all costs.

          Java is still very much a threat to Microsoft and they are still trying to win developers over to their technology so they can be directed, legally, to technology which will only run on Windows. MS .NET on Android or anything is foolish and a sign of naivety to Microsoft's motives and what it means to product life cycles and TCO. IMO

      • by Improv ( 2467 )

        You understanding of the reasoning behind Microsoft's forking of OS/2 is faulty - it was related to their managing to pull Windows up into protected mode as a cute hack, making the switch to MS/IBM OS/2 (and associated "long-term planning for PC platform") less urgent and making the kernel team for the joint product (mostly in MS) suddenly working on a product that had a questionable future. It was a conscious choice by Microsoft. You're also off on your claim on .net

        Really though, while MS is not very trus

      • by fritsd ( 924429 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @03:53PM (#33396838) Journal

        Java: Microsoft did not develop .Net, until Sun sued them for license issues, effectively stopping them developing on Java. ... and others.

        This is what Microsoft tried to do to Sun to get rid of their Java: Embrace -- Extend -- Extinguish
        This is the sworn expert testimony in court in case Comes vs Microsoft of a mr. Ronald Alepin on 5 january 2007, about Microsoft's strategy in 1995: Groklaw transcript of Comes vs Microsoft document [groklaw.net] (page down a bit for the transcript).
        (please read the whole thing for yourself. this quote here on /. is too short to really inform).

        Q. Before I do this, though, sir, in relation to Microsoft's employment of Java and use of Java, when you testified about Microsoft's Java interface extensions --
        A. Yes.
        Q. -- do those interface extensions tie the applets or applications to the Windows operating system?
        A. They tie them. Another phrase is they bind the applications or they lock them into the Windows platform. That's correct.
        Q. Okay. Thank you, sir.

        It's long ago, but maybe it can still be illuminating to read if you care about Microsoft's plans with their .NET platform and interoperability e.g. with Mono (I personally don't use .NET so I don't care, but your comment "..until Sun sued them for license issues.." nagged me as only partially true :-).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tayhimself ( 791184 )

        OS/2: Originally Microsoft developed Windows NT as OS/2 - a microkernel which was OS/2 on the front backward compatible with DOS and Windows, and switched to Windows, only after IBM started to show less and less interest in coding, and more interest in their process.

        Wikipedia disagrees and claims it was due to Windows 3.0's runaway success that MS felt bold enough to go on its own. My own recollection is in accordance with that.

        Java: Microsoft did not develop .Net, until Sun sued them for license issues, effectively stopping them developing on Java. ... and others.

        These license "issues" were embrace, extend extinguish by extending Java which was against the licensing agreemmt.

        A story is rarely single sided, but it's very hip to hit on MS on Slashdot...

        Judging by your 5 rating, it is very hip to defend MS on /. as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DMoylan ( 65079 )

      add sendo to your list
      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/01/06/microsofts_masterplan_to_screw_phone/ [theregister.co.uk]

      partner with ms, get fecked oved.

  • by khb ( 266593 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @03:06PM (#33396158)

    If they are just "porting" then I'd have expected that .net would sit atop Dalvik ... which would make the entire project just as "tainted" under the Oracle theory.

    Or is this going to be "raw" bypassing anything that Google neglected to ensure rights to use?

    • I don't know for sure, but Google, about 6 months after the original Android/G1 release, made a native SDK available. I imagine that for something like Mono, you would create a native executable JIT compiler/runtime (which is how you do .Net on any other platform). Or, perhaps, your mono code will be cross-compiled to a native Android/ARM binary program which does not require a separate Mono runtime to be installed on end-user phones.

      Interesting thing about MonoDroid is that while all the other incarnations

      • I don't believe MonoTouch (Mono for iPhone) is Open Source.

        • by JSBiff ( 87824 )

          Oh yeah, I forgot about MonoTouch. Is that product even still viable? I thought Apple was banning all apps developed using third-party toolkits, including MonoTouch?

    • by duranaki ( 776224 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @03:14PM (#33396308)
      It half sits on top of Dalvik and half on top of their own adaptation layer for native linux. But yes, it's at least half tainted. :)
      • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

        Can't wait to see what the battery life of an Android phone is going to be running .Net applications on Mono on top of Dalvik.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ma3382 ( 1095011 )
      "MonoDroid applications run with the Mono execution environment. This execution environment runs side-by-side the Dalvik Virtual Machine. Both runtime environments run on top of the Linux kernel and expose various APIs to the user code that allows developers to access the underlying system. Both Mono and Dalvik are runtimes written in the C language."

      http://monodroid.net/Documentation/Architecture [monodroid.net]
  • .Net has been around for years and years, Mono has been around for almost as long, and there's been no lawsuit, so Microsoft has no interest or intention of suing, right? I'm not convinced. The way I always figured it, if you're going to sue for something like that, you wait till the 'unofficial' platform has become wildly popular and it's largely too late to 'turn the ship', so to speak, then you sue.

    Microsoft's problem with .Net and Mono is that while it's become used somewhat, it hasn't really become use

  • If you are a dedicated .net developer looking to make mobile apps, this makes the android platform really appealing.

    Mono touch on iphone still requires a paid account, and suffers from an uncertain future. Windows phone only has silverlight and xna options. I don't know much about silverlight really, but i have little interest in learning it, and xna is pretty low level if you intend to make forms type things. Android is like this happy place of unencumbered .net app development. Who'd have thought it?
  • by molo ( 94384 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @03:13PM (#33396290) Journal

    From the FAQ [monodroid.net]:

    How much will MonoDroid Cost?

    We have not yet announced the pricing for MonoDroid, but you should anticipate that the price will be in the same range as MonoTouch ($400 USD for individual users, and $1,000 for enterprise users).

    How is MonoDroid licensed?

    MonoDroid is a commercial/proprietary offering that is built on top of the open source Mono project and is licensed on a per-developer basis.

    • It's a pity. It wouldn't even have to be open source, but a free license for open source apps would be nice.
      They're not going to make C# ubiquitous in the open source world if they don't cater to open source developers. Java is a better investment for them, despite being technologically inferior, because they can reuse code and skills between desktop and mobile development.

  • As an open source developers, we should develop a new language that will compile down to MonoDroid which will then be able to compile down to Droid. That way, if MS pulls their shenanigans, we can still, er, program for the droid. Um, yeah. Or you could learn Java.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bieber ( 998013 )
      ...except that MonoDroid is a completely proprietary platform, and I don't know about you, but this free software developer likes to keep his software running on free systems.
  • Define "safe".

  • so say I ignore all the controversy and possible patent traps etc., drop my current language of choice, and pick up java or .net, what is the gain?

  • by ciaran_o_riordan ( 662132 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @03:34PM (#33396574) Homepage

    Below are the en.swpat.org analyses. Two of the biggest things in Java's favour are that they have distributed OpenJDK under GPLv2, with the implied patent grant that gives, and Oracle is a member of OIN and there are thus a bunch of GCC and Classpath packages they've promised not to use their patents against.

    swpat.org is a publicly editable wiki, help welcome.

  • MonoDroid is not open/free software, is a commercial and closed product based on Mono. Novell probably pay MS some royalties for it under their agreements, so Microsoft saying they will not sue and they probably are profit from it is funny

  • by pslam ( 97660 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @03:48PM (#33396758) Homepage Journal

    It doesn't matter how much they assure that they won't go after free implementations. Without it written in legalese, irrevocable, it's a worthless statement.

    What happens in, say, 5 years if/when Microsoft is feeling the pressure of competition? Let's say they're going bankrupt. Sound unlikely? Well, replace 5 years with 20 years. They'll find they have this lovely patent pool full of wonderful words which are potentially worth billions of dollars. Like every single example I can think of in the history of computing since 1980, of course they'll sue using their patents to draw out their death.

    The same applies to any of the big names: Google (you're next), Oracle (already doing it), IBM (somehow never died), Sun (via Oracle), for starters. The nuclear weapon analogy holds nicely here too. The software patent mess is Mutually Assured Destruction. But amassing them and then saying "We won't use them"... what happens when your state collapses? Where do they go?

  • capable .NET is.

    Forget that it's riding on the most insecure OS on the planet. IF Microsoft, which KNOWS ALL the "undocumented" features of .NET, and it's hand picked partner Aventure, cannot build an app which is both stable and fast, then who can?

  • Don't get me wrong, Google has a policy of open platform in terms of cooperating with other corps when it strengthens their position (like Flash for instance) and they won't mind C# if it gives them advantages.

    Still, it's a risk, same like Java.

    You know, if I'd be Google, I'd think about how to come up with something that mitigates this risk, and maybe brings some first mover advantage.

    I've not been surprised if they'd come up with their own programming language, that'd just blow the other's away.

    They don't

  • by masmullin ( 1479239 ) <masmullin@gmail.com> on Friday August 27, 2010 @09:28PM (#33400004)

    It always confuses me that these companies go with java when they could have gone with C/gtk

    yeah yeah yeah... garbage collection. but if its really garbage collection shouldn't it just collect the whole damn language?

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel