.Net Source is now Open? Almost

Microsoft was accused for many years in their secrecy about internals of the Frameworks and being overprotective when it comes to the point of someone looking at it.

No-one was allowed to look at the code for the purpose of to see how it works.

I, as a Pascal/Delphi developer for many years, enjoyed availability of internal source code of components and system functionality since it was always part of Delphi as we know it.

Well… it is about to change for MS code as well… not all the way… but…

In SD Times’ “.Net Source Code Released” from February 15, 2008 it is confirmed that Microsoft is changing its license policy in regard to source from “The .NET Framework source is licensed under the read-only reference license, the most restrictive of the company’s Shared Source licenses.” to more open version when “license does not apply to developers creating non-Windows software that has ‘the same or substantially the same features or functionality’ as the .NET Framework.”

You can find more from ScottGu’s Blog along with exploring a new license text itself which is called Microsoft Reference License or MS-RL. Scott also provides example of how to enable code reference with Visual Studio 2008.

I am sure there is always a twist in every story, but I think it is a good step forward for Microsoft.

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6 thoughts on “.Net Source is now Open? Almost”

  1. Marco Cantù says:

    As I wrote in my blog it is possible to download the .NET source code without having visual studio and to debug it in Delphi for .NET.

  2. Yes, not much was preventing you from going through the code before.
    Point is more toward licensing: which was read-only, and now going to be “reference”.

  3. It’s a pity that the usage of the source is view-only using for debugging. I can understand that MS doesn’t want to get this source ported to any other platform than Windows, but I think it should be sensible that source must be modified just in order to iron bugs out. No additions, but just ironing out the nastiest bugs in order to get a darn good .NET framework!

  4. It was argued by many that MS does not disclose internals of the products/Framework not allowing reviewing the code to better integrate custom solutions on top of it.
    This is a main point of the new license – “get it, read it, see how to integrate properly”.
    License is not about “get it and copy it for your own product”.
    If you want to use the code, use the binary.
    If you want to integrate, see how it is best to do.
    Nobody will grant you a right to violate copyright rights.

  5. A trap? At least for those working on open source alternatives and/or ports, this can be very dangerous. Microsoft can now easily claim they stole code or concepts from them, even if that is not the case. It might be difficult to prove, but it is now much easier to take those developers to court and ruin them financially even if they did nothing wrong. Of course such a step might backfire as a PR desaster, but that does not help those that lost everything. I just hope this will never happen.

  6. Well, if it is a trap then they (community) asked for it…
    One cannot get something to see for free and expected it to be not protected by law.
    Official point to get access to the code was that – it can be better integrated with – and access been granted. Why new complains?
    Your point might be valid, except that it works both ways – someone can look at the code with intention to “steal” it or to see if it was “stolen”. Therefore I would expect to see more of “oh, it is mine code” first, much before MS has to worry about their code being copied…

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