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Microsoft Puts C# and the CLI Under "Community Promise"

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the if-it's-a-trap-please-clarify dept.

Patents 465

FishWithAHammer writes "Peter Galli of Microsoft posted a blog entry on Port25 today, regarding the explicit placement of C# and the Common Language Infrastructure (the ECMA standard that underpins .NET) under their Community Promise: 'It is important to note that, under the Community Promise, anyone can freely implement these specifications with their technology, code, and solutions. You do not need to sign a license agreement, or otherwise communicate to Microsoft how you will implement the specifications. ... Under the Community Promise, Microsoft provides assurance that it will not assert its Necessary Claims against anyone who makes, uses, sells, offers for sale, imports, or distributes any Covered Implementation under any type of development or distribution model, including open-source licensing models such as the LGPL or GPL.'" Adds reader anshulajain: "Understandably, Miguel De Icaza is jumping with joy."

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No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606163)

So after reading the article, the source seems to be Peter Galli's blog:

"The Community Promise is an excellent vehicle and, in this situation, ensures the best balance of interoperability and flexibility for developers," Scott Guthrie, the Corporate Vice President for the .Net Developer Platform, told me July 6.

Ok, I certainly hope he received more than just that before he began proclaiming to the world that Microsoft is doing such a thing.

The optimist in me is excited. The skeptical in me is dubious, confused and does not trust blogs. It's not listed on Microsoft's list of products under the Community Promise so I'm going to refrain from breaking out the champagne until all the facts are finalized.

Anyone else got a better source for this than a loosely affiliated blog that bills itself as "Communication from the Open Source Community at Microsoft" ?

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (2, Interesting)

ThisIsAnonymous (1146121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606257)

Every blog/news article that I've found about this story links to: http://www.microsoft.com/interop/cp/default.mspx [microsoft.com]
And I can't find anything on that page that mentions C#. Perhaps I'm reading it wrong...

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (4, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606267)

Its not just that its 'promised' to be added to the Community Promise, its only the ECMA 334 and 335 standards that will be added (possibly).

According to TFA:

ECMA 334 specifies the form and establishes the interpretation of programs written in the C# programming language, while the ECMA 335 standard defines the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) in which applications written in multiple high-level languages can be executed in different system environments without the need to rewrite those applications to take into consideration the unique characteristics of those environments.

however.. later on, he says about Mono:

Astute readers will point out that Mono contains much more than the ECMA standards, and they will be correct.

In the next few months we will be working towards splitting the jumbo Mono source code that includes ECMA + A lot more into two separate source code distributions. One will be ECMA, the other will contain our implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Winforms and others.

So really, even if MS adds the 2 standards to their Community Promise, that still doesn't mean you get anything useful - if you write a simple app that does nothing, you're fine. If you want DB access, or web serving, or a GUI.. you're still in the same problem as before.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606337)

even so, it looks like a positive sign, that the open source business model is gaining ground.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606591)

They're letting you implement the specs, but in exchange you're not allowed to challenge their ownership of the patents or copyrights involved. I don't really know if you'd call this open source or just a benevolent gesture on their part.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (4, Informative)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606369)

Sorry, but you're spreading FUD. You can write a GUI in Mono without Windows Forms, and its generally even a good idea anyway since WinForms on anything but Windows looks and works horrible. On Linux its generally done with GTK#.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (2, Insightful)

Tom9729 (1134127) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606491)

It's not FUD. One of the goals of the Mono project is compatibility with .NET applications and that means supporting things like Windows Forms.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606545)

Right, but the linux geek's parent said writing a GUI requires Microsoft properietary crap. It doesn't. Thus, FUD.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (3, Informative)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606761)

It's not FUD. One of the goals of the Mono project is compatibility with .NET applications and that means supporting things like Windows Forms.

You're right, but the most common criticism of Mono before this announcement was that free software distributed with Linux carried a patent risk. The Winforms stuff is still a goal of the Mono project, but there is no reason for Linux distributions to install it. The non-ECMA parts of Mono are still very useful for companies migrating existing Windows legacy apps to Linux, but nobody would write a new free application with Winforms starting from scratch (GTK# is a lot better).

So the Windows.Forms and other Microsoft APIs move to a separate 'Mono-non-ECMA' package, which can be treated a bit like Wine: you wouldn't really want to install it by default or develop against it, but it can be invaluable if you have existing Windows software you want to run.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (4, Informative)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606505)

If you install libgdi+, Winforms works just find on FreeBSD.

As for looks that's a matter of taste, I never minded how Windows looks, but Gnome never really suited me. With libgdi+, winforms tend to look a lot like plain old Windows.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28607055)

On Linux its generally done with GTK#.

But it should be doen with Qt.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606377)

As it always is with convicted antitrust abuser Microsoft, the devil is in the details. Be sure to spread the particulars of those details far and wide!

Focus on the exceptions to their Community Promise, as those will almost certainly be where the useful features are. They're not about to give away their goods at this point, people. Dream on.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606539)

*sniff* *sniff*

Do I smell FUDge? I'm hungry.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (5, Informative)

Plug (14127) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606389)

If you want a GUI on Windows, or using the Windows libraries, sure.

GTK# [mono-project.com] is entirely developed by the Mono project, and requires none of the aforementioned Microsoft parts. That means applications like Tomboy [gnome.org] and Banshee [banshee-project.org] should now be fully RMS-friendly.

Mono is more than just 'running Windows applications on Linux'. There is a large ecosystem of utilities developed with it, because (a) a properly object-oriented language with native bindings is much better than the C-with-Gobject alternative, and (b) Java was not Free at the time.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (2, Insightful)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606391)

As far as I understand it none of the Gnome Mono apps use those other libraries. Perhaps ADO.net, I'm not certain.

Certainly they don't use Winforms, they use the GTK bindings.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (2, Informative)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606411)

Not an issue. [mono-project.com]

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606435)

So really, even if MS adds the 2 standards to their Community Promise, that still doesn't mean you get anything useful - if you write a simple app that does nothing, you're fine. If you want DB access, or web serving, or a GUI.. you're still in the same problem as before.

I believe it means that if you want DB access, or web serving, or a GUI, you will have to use other libraries that Mono offers, such as GTK# for the GUI instead of WinForms etc. You don't have to use the windows libraries -- it's just convenient to have them available for Mono for cross-platform purposes.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (3, Insightful)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 5 years ago | (#28607035)

I'm sorry, but wasn't part of the point of Mono (and .NET, actually) compatibility and cross-platform independence? So if I require Mono-specific libraries to use Mono, and Microsoft-owned libraries to use .NET, what is the advantage of using the framework? It is then just another environment among myriad, more mature, others.

        -dZ.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606453)

So it's still powerfully patent and copyright encumbered: if this blog turns out to be correct, Microsoft will have merely freed up one hand of the prisoner so they can scratch their nose, but not do anything really useful like unlock the other chains.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606829)

They can also use that free hand to masturbate. As a typical linux user, that's all I care about.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (1)

sfraggle (212671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606515)

So really, even if MS adds the 2 standards to their Community Promise, that still doesn't mean you get anything useful - if you write a simple app that does nothing, you're fine. If you want DB access, or web serving, or a GUI.. you're still in the same problem as before.

Not true. The main controversy recently (which presumably was what prompted this "promise") was after RMS warned people against using Mono to develop Gnome applications under Linux. This uses C# as a convenient high level language for Gnome development, with none of the Windows-only library like ADO.NET or Winforms. Assuming that Microsoft keep to their patent promise, this is a big win in that respect.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (3, Informative)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 5 years ago | (#28607105)

Almost. I present to you, the Mono Project FAQ:

The Mono Project is an open development initiative sponsored by Novell to develop an open source, UNIX version of the Microsoft .NET development platform. Its objective is to enable UNIX developers to build and deploy cross-platform .NET Applications. The project implements various technologies developed by Microsoft that have now been submitted to the ECMA for standardization.

(my emphasis)

That was the main concern of RMS: that the attraction to the project was the promise of cross-platform .NET development, but that such development is ultimately encumbered by patented technologies.

        -dZ.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606521)

The latest ECMA spec covers C# version 2, the version from Visual Studio 2005. The new features in C# version 3 (in Visual Studio 2008) are not described in any independent standard.

If you program to the latest version of the language (which is the default in Mono) you are not covered by this announcement.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (2, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606873)

If you program to the latest version of the language (which is the default in Mono) you are not covered by this announcement.

Only if there are enforceable patents held by Microsoft which are specific to C# (the language) version 3. You see, C# 3 compiles to the same bytecode as C# 2, and runs on the same virtual machine. The MS patents that people worry about are on implementation techniques for the virtual machine. You use the same ECMA-specified virtual machine to run bytecode compiled from C# 2 and C# 3, so it's covered.

If there are (enforceable) software patents covering the language itself, specifically the new features in C# 3, then you have a point.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (2, Interesting)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606911)

That was my immediate reaction. Microsoft like to play "the version game"... remember when they traded a license to the Mac GUI in exchange for a specific version of Office, then immediately revved the version? (No, probably not-- that happened in the 80's and 90's.)

So now that they've come out with a new version, they're freeing up the previous version. While that's a nice step, it doesn't exactly make Mono free and clear, nor does it allow Mono to create a runtime that will run any .NET app on any platform other than Windows. The old argument that C# locks you in to Windows is still largely true.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (2, Insightful)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606673)

So really, even if MS adds the 2 standards to their Community Promise, that still doesn't mean you get anything useful - if you write a simple app that does nothing, you're fine. If you want DB access, or web serving, or a GUI.. you're still in the same problem as before.

There are a few flaws with this argument. Firstly, if you want a GUI then Winforms is not the only choice. In fact, GTK# is a lot nicer, on Windows and Mac as well as on Linux, and all the free Mono apps such Banshee use GTK#, and C# bindings to other standard Linux libraries. They do not use ASP.NET, Winforms or other more Windowsy stuff.

Secondly, the software patents that Microsoft owns and which people are worried about are the ones on the .NET runtime engine itself (part of the ECMA standards). I'm not aware that they hold enforceable swpats for more pedestrian things like database bindings (though like every large company, they have a portfolio of crappy software patents for 'mutual assured destruction' purposes).

I think it's a good idea, though, to split the Mono distribution into the ECMA-standard part (which is now demonstrably safe from patent attacks by Microsoft, though sadly not from other software companies and patent trolls) and a more Microsoft-flavoured, free-reimplementation-of-proprietary-APIs part, which is more like Wine and other libraries used to port existing Windows apps to Linux. If you are worried that the classes for database access or Winforms GUI expose you to patent risk, don't install them - few free programs use them anyway. That should keep everyone happy.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606799)

So really, even if MS adds the 2 standards to their Community Promise, that still doesn't mean you get anything useful - if you write a simple app that does nothing, you're fine. If you want DB access, or web serving, or a GUI.. you're still in the same problem as before.

Well, there's always NHibernate and iBatis for .NET, as well as a couple of .NET-only solutions (which I'm not very familiar with).

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606371)

It's not "loosely affiliated", Port25 is a Microsoft site and the guy who announced it works for them.

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606401)

which means nothing if it's not an official communicate

Re:No Really Definite Confirmation of This Yet (3, Informative)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606543)

It's not listed on Microsoft's list of products under the Community Promise so I'm going to refrain from breaking out the champagne until all the facts are finalized.

According to a comment by Miguel on his blog,

Brian Goldfarb at Microsoft has said that the update will be coming, it was just not done on time for the Peter Galli's announcement.

Huh!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606175)

What alternate reality have I stepped into this week!? -head explodes-

quickly, bash them. (2, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606195)

they must be up to no good.

Re:quickly, bash them. (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606221)

It's a trap!

Re:quickly, bash them. (2, Funny)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606291)

Maybe it's just a sign the Microsoft think they can beat Mono. If Microsoft sets the standards they will have a more mature platform out at any point in time.

Or maybe they think that a little competition is a good thing?

Thank goodness (-1, Troll)

doas777 (1138627) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606211)

'bout time. Perhaps now, RMS will shut up about it.

Re:Thank goodness (0)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606227)

no, he will just come up with some bullshit about it not being as "free" (ironic how his ilk have been able to twist that word) as the GPL.

Re:Thank goodness (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606263)

No he will not and here's why:

Mono, which is related to .NET and CLI is much more than what ECMA standards specify yet there is no reference to those.

If he makes noise, he will have a point.

Re:Thank goodness (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606305)

At which point Mono does the simple open-source thing of implementing just the ECMA spec (plus its own extensions in its own namespace) and all is good again and RMS is back to the "nothing to complain about in C#/.Net" position :)

Re:Thank goodness (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606325)

That'd make Mono pointless, though. It'd just be another implementation of a system nobody uses.

Re:Thank goodness (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606657)

Why? We'll get a C# compiler, what's bad or unimportant about that?

Re:Thank goodness (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28607029)

What's bad is that it furthers MS's goal of turning computing into a vending machine that they can tax. Maybe that feels good to you.

Implementations in progress appear not covered (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606365)

From the Microsoft Community Promise [microsoft.com] , with my emphasis:

Microsoft irrevocably promises not to assert any Microsoft Necessary Claims against you for making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or distributing any implementation, to the extent it conforms to one of the Covered Specifications, and is compliant with all of the required parts of the mandatory provisions of that specification ("Covered Implementation") [...] The CP applies only if the implementation conforms fully to required portions of the specification. Partial implementations are not covered.

Free software is often distributed to the public while in an incomplete state. This Community Promise appears not to apply to such an implementation that is published before it is completely compliant.

Re:Implementations in progress appear not covered (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606439)

Mono has implemented the ECMA standards ages ago.

Re:Implementations in progress appear not covered (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606649)

From Mono's FAQ: [mono-project.com]

Q: Will you offer an ECMA-compliant set of class libraries?

A: Eventually we will. Our current focus is on inter-operating with the Microsoft SDK, but we will also offer an ECMA compliant subset of the libraries.

Re:Implementations in progress appear not covered (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606683)

(...) to the extent it conforms to one of the Covered Specifications, and is compliant with all of the required parts of the mandatory provisions of that specification ("Covered Implementation") [...]

Interesting. I was already wondering wth a "covered implementation" might be.

This shows (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606215)

Microsoft love us and want us to be happy :-)

that figures. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606279)

We need a "Fucking Hilarious" mod.

Re:This shows (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606581)

you need another 'a' on the end of your sig!

Re:This shows (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606607)

I mean './a', sorry

Re:This shows (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606641)

oops :)

4 chan.... (-1, Offtopic)

pHus10n (1443071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606229)

I've been reading 4chan too much lately, apparently. I almost accidentally my whole Coke when I read the tags for this. CP != Community Promise on most boards...

promise doesn't extent downstream (3, Informative)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606273)

The 'community promise' does not extend to commercial downstream recipients of open source MONO applications !

Re:promise doesn't extent downstream (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606381)

It does not apply to 'partial implementations' either.

From the FAQ

Q: What if I don't implement the entire specification? Will I still get the protections under the CP?

A: The CP applies only if the implementation conforms fully to required portions of the specification. Partial implementations are not covered.

Re:promise doesn't extent downstream (2, Informative)

js_sebastian (946118) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606537)

The 'community promise' does not extend to commercial downstream recipients of open source MONO applications !

I think that is incorrect. Quoting from the community promise itself (linked in article)

Microsoft irrevocably promises not to assert any Microsoft Necessary Claims against you for making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or distributing any implementation, to the extent it conforms to one of the Covered Specifications, and is compliant with all of the required parts of the mandatory provisions of that specification

It includes "using". So I do not receive the rights from the distributor of a MONO application, but I, as a user, am directly granted the right to use it from the microsoft community promise.

The fact that you have to conform to the standards is however a real restriction. It makes some sense, to avoid someone else playing an embrace-extend-hijack on them, like they tried with Java... however this also means that if I invent my own language+runtime D# that infringes on some microsoft C# patents this does not protect me.

Re:promise doesn't extent downstream (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606765)

Microsoft irrevocably promises not to assert any Microsoft Necessary Claims against you for making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or distributing any implementation, to the extent it conforms to one of the Covered Specifications, and is compliant with all of the required parts of the mandatory provisions of that specification

It includes "using". So I do not receive the rights from the distributor of a MONO application, but I, as a user, am directly granted the right to use it from the microsoft community promise.

The real question is: does that cover "modifying"? Might be interesting for distributors which may want to patch Mono.

The fact that you have to conform to the standards is however a real restriction. It makes some sense, to avoid someone else playing an embrace-extend-hijack on them, like they tried with Java... however this also means that if I invent my own language+runtime D# that infringes on some microsoft C# patents this does not protect me.

Would be interesting where that puts Vala. It's very similar to C#.

Sounds promising... (2, Informative)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606277)

It sounds promising, and it may end up meaning Stallman was wrong all along and that it was safe to implement .Net/C# (which GNU have done anyway). It's be useful to have somewhere slightly more authoritative to hear it from (like Microsoft themselves) but at least people don't need to worry about "arrrghh, it's a patent trap" and can get on with "hurrah! I can focus on coding for the desktop in a decent language rather than having low-level memory concerns etc".

Not that I ever cared anyway. Stick to the registered standard definition of C# and Microsoft couldn't exactly kill off Mono anyway, as they'd probably have ended up breaching the "fair and non-discriminatory" part of the patent licensing or been forced to give Mono a free license anyway.

Re:Sounds promising... (4, Insightful)

geordie_loz (624942) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606691)

This doesn't make Stallman wrong all along. The issue Stallman raised is that the situation was not clear enough to have confidence that freedoms would be safe. If this announcement clears that up (as it appears to do), then the situation is *now* clear, and he can change his view based on new facts. That does not mean that he is then made wrong in his previous statements. This statement has brought the information that many in the community were asking for, it doesn't make them wrong for wanting this.

Re:Sounds promising... (1)

Sinbios (852437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606895)

change his view based on new facts

Stallman?!

Re:Sounds promising... (4, Insightful)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606937)

It sounds promising, and it may end up meaning Stallman was wrong all along

You've got the causality exactly wrong. If it wasn't for Stallman and other FOSS people making a lot of noise about this recently, it wouldn't have happened. (Note that I'm not saying Stallman himself is to be thanked for this, it's the general noise about the topic, which he was a part of.)

There are always two levels to statements such as those Stallman etc. made about Mono. On the first level, they are meant to be taken at face value - their arguments are either valid or not, in and of themselves. On the second level, they are intended to cause an effect of some form, such as motivating certain people to do certain things. In this case, the second level was meant to motivate Microsoft to make the first level (the direct arguments against using Mono) invalid. That appears to have worked (well, once Microsoft formally announces this, presumably soon, but all we have so far is a blog post).

It's about time (5, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606311)

Now Microsoft is estopped from going after people using c# and .net technologies.

This is the answer I've wanted from Miguel ever since the Novell brouhaha.

Promissory estoppel serves as a "consideration substitute" in contract law that renders certain promises otherwise lacking in consideration binding and enforceable. In such cases, the promisee's reliance is treated as an independent and sufficient basis for enforcing the promise. Promissory estoppel can be viewed as a legal device that prohibits the promissor from denying the existence of a contract for lack of consideration.

http://www.lawnix.com/cases/promissory-estoppel.html [lawnix.com]

Re:It's about time (2, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606405)

My first response to this news was: "assurance"? WTF? That's like, "My dear, I assure you that I will pull out in time."

But then I read the post about this action being promissory estoppel. And I am most definitely not a lawyer, but in the link provided, all the cases included "the court decided". So it is not some magical binding spell put on Microsoft. If it is in their best interest to suck portions of the community into their trap and then bring legal action later, they can. And probably will. And they have the money to buy lawyers who can find ways around their previous "assurance" and their promises.

Re:It's about time (2, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606517)

You're not allowed to encourage a behavior and then sue because someone took you at your word later.

That is "setting us up the bomb" and what promissory estoppel is supposed to rectify.

And I'm not a lawyer. Maybe NYCL or someone else can come here and explain further.

--
BMO

Microsoft is NOT contributing to open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28607133)

This does not adhere in spirit or law to any open source or free software definitions.

Baically, Microsoft can pull developers into their mindshare-trap, and later they will say: See, you are using our technology, which we developed, you really should contribute back to us, pay us.

Whereas true sharing, is done without any attribution or demands. Microsoft has still not figured this out yet and should be avoided like the plague by people who care about freedom and open technology.

Re:It's about time (2, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606801)

So what you're saying is that it's a really well disguised trap?

Note that what Microsoft is stopped from doing has no bearing on what they can fund other companies to do on their behalf [cnet.com] .

There's no legal basis for any third party to sue .NET implementers, you say? Well, gosh darn, I guess there's no way that Microsoft could fund them to file a bullshit case that drags on for year after year after year, tying up court time, costing the defendants millions in fees, and eating away at the hearts of souls of good men like a cancer [groklaw.net] . Is there?

No more FUD (1, Informative)

magian (1417365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606313)

Good, now maybe the anti-Mono FUDites will shut up and play nicely.

Re:No more FUD (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606445)

Maybe you pro-Mono FUDites should read what they are really promising. It only covers the core language and run-time, not anything useful like the libraries.

...and this means? (3, Insightful)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606335)

Okay, first off - I'm a Linux user. I love FOSS. I'm also a realist - i put my trust in that my staff will be able to write C# apps in Wintendo that will function. I expect in the near future that portions may be converted over to mono so that we may host items on Linux servers:

http://www.perfectreign.com/stuff/2009/20090312_secure_submitter.jpg

http://www.perfectreign.com/stuff/2008/20080912_JEDI_Vitals_Screen.png

http://www.perfectreign.com/stuff/2008/20081205_ie6_yoda_ii_ponte.jpg

My question is this - does MS moving to a new license change my current licensing? How does it interact with those running SLES or Virtualized Windows 2008 under XEN?

FYI, this IS legally binding (5, Informative)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606349)

"Q: Is this Community Promise legally binding on Microsoft and will it be available in the future to me and to others?

A: Yes, the CP is legally binding upon Microsoft. The CP is a unilateral promise from Microsoft and in these circumstances unilateral promises may be enforced against the party making such a promise. Because the CP states that the promise is irrevocable, it may not be withdrawn by Microsoft. The CP is, and will be, available to everyone now and in the future for the specifications to which it applies. As stated in the CP, the only time Microsoft can withdraw its promise against a specific person or company for a specific Covered Specification is if that person or company brings (or voluntarily participates in) a patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft regarding Microsoft's implementation of the same Covered Specification. This type of "suspension" clause is common industry practice."

tl;dr they can't sue you, ever, unless you sue them over patents.

Also, Mono contains
1) parts that are covered by the ECMA standard (C# and the CLI)
2) original namespaces (like Mono.Simd)
3) open-sourced Microsoft stuff (like ASP.NET, under the OSI-approved MS-PL license)
4) parts that are in .NET but not covered by the standard (like Winforms)
which is why Miguel de Icaza says they'll be splitting their distribution up into now definitely safe (1 and 2) and potentially dodgy (3 and 4) packages, which is what already happens on Ubuntu for instance.

Seriously, who the fuck cares? (3, Informative)

iCantSpell (1162581) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606353)

C# == Microsoft Java Compare [javacamp.org]

Why do people think C# is some new amazing language? Clearly MS took Java and gave it a MS framework.

If you would just use java you probably wouldn't have this fear of MS trying to undermine the OSS movement. When a multi-billion dollar company other than google tries to "help" OSS, you can only be suspicious.

http://www.javacamp.org/javavscsharp/getStarted.html [javacamp.org]

Re:Seriously, who the fuck cares? (2, Informative)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606425)

No, J# is Microsoft Java. Educate yourself. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Seriously, who the fuck cares? (1)

Plug (14127) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606437)

If I wanted to develop an app for Windows alone, you had C#/.NET, "Microsoft Java" with a complete native look-and-feel (although I do admit it took until .NET 2.0 to really get there), or "Java" with (at the time) looks-like-Java-on-all-platforms.

Not to mention the other languages on the CLR.

As to why Linux didn't pick it up, Java wasn't even really distributable until Sun released it under the GPL, and Mono was way ahead of the IcedTea (free JDK) project - Mono had ".NET does not exist on Linux" as a driver, where IcedTea was all about "Java exists; you could use that if you DL it from Sun, so this project is really only interesting to people who care a lot about the freedom".

Re:Seriously, who the fuck cares? (0, Troll)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606461)

I find it pretty amazing when you mention this to most C# programmers, they'll go on about how different C# is from Java. Even though, we when you're worked with both, it's immediately obvious how similar they are.

Same with the CLR vs JVM, same thing, different name. I guess it's probably a credit to Microsoft's advertising that lower rung programmers think .NET is some kind of revolutionary technology and not a crippled clone of Java.

Re:Seriously, who the fuck cares? (4, Insightful)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606667)

Hi, I've worked extensively with both and think that they're quite different. Can I presume that Java and C# are the only languages that you've worked with? And C# pretty minimally, at that?

C++ programmers and Java programmers can all feel quite at home after only a short time in C#. It was designed that way. Saying that, coming to it only knowing C/C++, it didn't take much longer for me to develop an initial familiarity with Java. In fact, pretty much by definition, and for obvious reasons of programmer portability, most strongly typed, high-level programming languages are remarkably similar.

To say that C# is identical to Java, though, is bollocks. There are some pretty significant differences, and in many cases I prefer C#'s implementation.

Re:Seriously, who the fuck cares? (0, Flamebait)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#28607057)

Thanks for not providing anything to refute my post.

However, the .NET fanbois on Slashdot seem to have modded you up anyway.

Congrats!

Re:Seriously, who the fuck cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606473)

no, you're completely mistaken, C# initially feels like Java, but when you seriously start using it you realise that it is much much much more - a much more serious programming language than java will ever be.

This makes no real difference! (5, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606355)

Here's why:

There is no mention of other components [nyud.net] the extend .NET!

From the document...

"...We introduce instructions newdata, lddata, stdata, castdata, isdata and
switchdata to create and manipulate classunion values..." (emphasis mine).

In fact, this announcement is not much different compared to the one 7 years ago!

Watch out folks. Microsoft's classic Embrace, Extend, Extinguish paradigm is very possible here.

Necessary Claims (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606429)

Necessary Claims are the patents which can be proven to a court to be infringed by any compliant implementation of the specification.

Given the incoherent mishmash of vaguely-specific documentation underlying the myriad layers of .Net, it is my considered opinion that this promise is completely and utterly useless. Microsoft needs only to show that your violation lies outside the subset of technologies covered, or that a possible implementation does not infringe their patents. Then your innocently-assumed protection vanishes, to be replaced by a drawn-out legal battle... Or, more likely, another company which happens to possess similar patents randomly decides to sue you.

At best, this signals yet another small step by Microsoft toward actually competing. More likely, it is a continuation of their cynical gamesmanship, intended only to serve as a continued basis for hindering innovation.

So, let me get this straight... (1)

XB-70 (812342) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606431)

A oft convicted company is now making a 'community promise' - and we're supposed to believe them??!!!

Grab your ankles, folks, this will hurt us all in the end.

Re:So, let me get this straight... (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606471)

It's legally binding. They can't sue you for using C# or the CLI even if they wanted to.

Re:So, let me get this straight... (1)

bheer (633842) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606697)

This isn't a promise in the sense of "I promise not to cheat". It's a promise in the legally binding sense of promissory estoppel.

Nothing New, Doesn't Help Mono (3, Insightful)

CritterNYC (190163) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606465)

This is nothing new and nothing we didn't already know. It still says nothing about ASP.NET, Windows Forms and all the other parts of .NET that are not part of the ECMA standard. Mono implements many, many things outside the ECMA standard, so anybody but Novell who distributes or otherwise uses Mono is at risk of patent shenanigans.

Re:Nothing New, Doesn't Help Mono (1)

Plug (14127) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606973)

-1, Wrong.

TFA (Miguel's blog post) states:

In the next few months we will be working towards splitting the jumbo Mono source code that includes ECMA + A lot more into two separate source code distributions. One will be ECMA, the other will contain our implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Winforms and others.

Depending on how you get Mono today, you might already have the this split in house or not.

Don't want the parts that aren't explicitly patent-unencumbered? Don't use them. But the first half will be enough to run open source apps (such as those for GNOME) written in C#.

why so happy? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606467)

Why would Miguel De Icaza be so happy if his previous assertions that there is nothing to worry about mean anything?

Re:why so happy? (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606549)

Because now there's a legal basis for it.

Re:why so happy? (1)

Plug (14127) | more than 5 years ago | (#28607005)

Because the guy at Boycott Novell didn't believe him.

Bidirectional promise not to sue? (1)

MadFarmAnimalz (460972) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606495)

From the Microsoft Community Promise [microsoft.com] :

If you file, maintain, or voluntarily participate in a patent infringement lawsuit against a Microsoft implementation of any Covered Specification, then this personal promise does not apply with respect to any Covered Implementation made or used by you

Is that a patent retaliation clause? Interesting.

Anyhow, the way I read that, you can't sue Microsoft if they make use of one of your patents in their own implementations, albeit limited to the specifications covered in this initiative. That probably wasn't very interesting in the context of what had previously been released under this scheme (HealthVault Service Specification, UI Automation v1.0 , etc.), but .Net/Mono is much more serious technology and therefore more likely to contain or sprout patents.

So, considering that isn't it more likely that it's the indie developer (less likely to take out patents on own work) who wouldn't mind this promise rather than any commercial technology provider (more likely to take out patents on own work)? If that logic holds then one effect of this Microsoft initiative would be to prevent the emergence of any real commercial Mono competition to .Net.

Re:Bidirectional promise not to sue? (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606579)

It seems to me that it's a defense for them against overzealous patent trolls. They say it's standard industry practice.

But they were all of them deceived.... (4, Insightful)

gwking (869658) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606527)

I love C# as a language, and .NET has been one of my favorite products from MS, it's great to use for development and seems to be what Java should have been. My concern with this announcement though is that I can't get The Lord of the Rings out of my head... Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to rule them all, One ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

Re:But they were all of them deceived.... (2, Interesting)

minsk (805035) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606701)

In part I agree with you. In designing C# (and .NET in general), Microsoft correctly identified a lot of the hiccups of Java development.

Unfortunately, IMO, their solutions were a disaster.

Erasure-based generics are annoying, but the CE-incompatible hacks of runtime generation are worse. Writing getter/setter for trivial properties is annoying, but limited and buggy syntactic sugar is worse. Having all objects be pointers is annoying, but making structs silently stack-allocated is worse. Needing to use arrays to fake reference parameters is annoying, but side-effects on partial execution are worse. Having to scrunch different languages in to a Java-tailored bytecode is annoying, but the gymnastics required by MSIL are worse.

Its a trick, get an axe! (1)

halfdan the black (638018) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606529)

in the wise words of Ash.

What is included? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606541)

As far as I am aware promises have little legal binding. There is always the worry that they will decide that some element "wasn't covered by the promise" and try to collect royalties, or sue for damages. Is it clear where the "open" libraries end and the "closed" operating system call start? (this is a genuine question; I don't know)

What about the FAT file systems? (0)

WhiteFluffyChest (1101403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606601)

Strange, they are making promises about C# and the CLI but you still can't use the FAT filesystem?

They tried to sue TomTom for using FAT with Linux only a few weeks ago.

Microsoft are full of it. You simply can't trust them.

Legally Executed Agreement? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606609)

A promise is nice, but hardly a legally binding agreement. If the FSF reviews and agrees to this agreement - in perpetuity, then I may consider using this. Ok, probably not.

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice ...

Anyone recall the FAT legal woes?

Another attempt by Microsoft... (0, Flamebait)

mario_grgic (515333) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606671)

to make itself remotely relevant among geeks. But it's too late. I certainly never be using any Microsoft technology or God forbid a language invented by them. Thanks MS, but no thanks. You betrayed all the trust you ever had. Have a long and painful death, bye.

The Head of the snake. (0, Flamebait)

sbenson (153852) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606699)

No Matter how sensuously it moves it's tail, it's the snake's head that will bite you.
(or throw a chair at you.)

Until the head is removed, I'm not going to play with it.

Java or Mono or Both? (4, Insightful)

mrpacmanjel (38218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606771)

I have been following Mono for a while but I am currently still using Java.

The question is which do I commit to?

The way I understand it is:

Java has less "patent liability" than Mono.
All of Java is under an open license including "essential" libraries (e.g. data access, gui).
Only the "core" (including the framework libraries?) of .net are covered by the Communtiy Promise but not some of the supporting libraries (e.g. ado.net, winforms).

I know that these .net libraries have been implemented in Mono but would we have to write new open-source libraries to replace thier functionality and remain "patent-threat" free?

If this is the case then I would imagine that Java would be the preferred choice IF you had to chose one.

What are the overheads of both the Java and Mono virtual machines running at the same time? Would we be better getting behind just one environment and using that.

For what it's worth I really like and prefer Mono - especially Banshee (is there an equivalent for Java?) and I want to develop for it but the Community Promise only covers the ECMA part of .net. Without the other libraries I fear Mono is hamstrung.

At least with Java I know where I stand, all the libraries are included and the functionality is already there.

Re:Java or Mono or Both? (2, Insightful)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606985)

Java has less "patent liability" than Mono.

Are you sure? It has less noise made on Internet discussion forums about patents, that is certain. That doesn't mean the risk is less. Don't assume that only Sun holds patents relevant to Java, or that only Microsoft holds patents relevant to .NET.

For what it's worth I really like and prefer Mono - especially Banshee (is there an equivalent for Java?) and I want to develop for it but the Community Promise only covers the ECMA part of .net. Without the other libraries I fear Mono is hamstrung.

It depends what you want to do. I assume you are developing on Linux? In that case you will probably want to use Linux native libraries with C# bindings, not the Winforms implementation shipped by Mono.

At least with Java I know where I stand, all the libraries are included and the functionality is already there.

I think this is the big difference: in Java you tend to program in a 'pure Java' bubble where almost all the libraries you use are in Java. Mono/C# applications like Banshee link to a lot of native Linux libraries like GTK+ and GStreamer. Of course there is nothing to stop Java using native libraries too (see java-gnome) but so far, this hasn't caught on to the extent it has for Mono. Remember that Mono was originally created by Linux desktop programmers as an easier way to make GNOME applications, while Java's heritage is as the One True Platform for writing code that runs on any OS, and so needs a complete set of Java libraries.

Is C# / Mono + libraries really *that* good? (3, Interesting)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606783)

OK, first off it's excellent news if MS are doing this. It would be nice if they did the same for the parts of Mono / .NET that are outside ECMA.

As far as motivation for this goes, they're a business for whom pure co-operation seems to have dubious benefits. I assume that they believe that in this case more people using .NET is good for them and that they can compete well on the quality of the implementation and debugging tools (probably true if only because they'll have a head start on new features).

But the question I'm really curious about: CLI / C# / Mono seems to have generated a massive amount of controversy and therefore a lot of noise. Some fairly popular new apps have been written using it. The whole situation seems to suggest that, whilst using the technology was generally considered to have many downsides, it must have pretty large benefits too: it's not just being suggested as a compatibility library but as a foundation for some pretty cool new stuff. So ... is this really the case? Is it that good that you'd want to write your note taking app in it (Tomboy) even though it's possible to write it in another language (i.e. Gnote)? Are the development tools that much better?

Or is it the case that a few "killer apps" happened to be written in C# as demonstrations of its abilities - even though another language would have done the job - and those apps are sufficiently desirable that Mono is getting pushed hard so that everyone can have these killer apps by default?

Personally, although I've not programmed in C#, I'm familiar with a variety of languages and implementation strategies. Different languages are certainly good for different things and more modern languages are typically less painful to work with. C# sounds quite nice. But what I'm wondering is: is the noise and push over Mono as a popular platform a result of it being particularly strong, or a result of a few particularly desirable apps depending on it? Obviously some (much!) of the noise generated is simply due to concerns over leveraging MS technology. But I do wonder how good the technology must be to justify this much noise and controversy!

Re:Is C# / Mono + libraries really *that* good? (2, Insightful)

SpoodyGoon (1574025) | more than 5 years ago | (#28606931)

Yes they really are that good. Thanks for asking.

UMMMMMMMM. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28606825)

It's a trap!!!!!!!!!!!

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