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Why .NET Micro Really Went Open Source

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A few months ago Microsoft announced their plans to release the .NET Micro Framework as an open source project. Since then there has been rumors that Microsoft is using open source as an excuse to abandon the project. The truth is the exact opposite, Microsoft is actually using open source to drive the adoption of .NET Micro.

According to Colin Miller, Project Unit Manager at Microsoft, the change is being driven by the business model for small electronic devices. Even a small licensing fee of a dollar or two per unit can account for a significant portion of a device’s total cost. This cost drives down adoption, which in turn interferes with Microsoft’s strategic goals. Specifically, the goal is for Microsoft to have a complete package of development tools for everything from the smallest electronic devices to massive cloud-based system.

Another reason open source is important for adoption is the heterogeneous nature of the electronic device market. Adoption was being slowed down because developers and engineers were forced to wait for Microsoft to port the Micro framework to each new device.

Colin also revealed Microsoft is planning to form a well organized partnership with the open source community. A board formed of both Microsoft and non-Microsoft members will determine which projects to focus on with the expectation that they will eventually make their way into the core of the framework. The list of possible projects will be pulled from submissions by the user community.

One area where .NET Micro has been taking flak is the lack of Visual Basic support. While Microsoft still isn’t planning on dedicating resources for VB at this time, they do have a demo version an intern built a few years back. This will be released as open source as well, with the expectation that if a VB version is really desired by the community they can pick it up and complete the project.

Another area is the lack of open source cryptography libraries. According to Colin this was an accident of timing and he hopes that once the open source site is setup that someone will adopt the cryptography project.

With support for managed code, WPF, and high quality components that can be assembled with little or no soldering, the future of the small scale and hobbyist electronic markets looks better than ever.

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Community comments

  • Very interesting analysis!

    by Aayush Puri /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Liked it!

  • I'm always amazed at the level of paranoia...

    by Mark Levison /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    ...with respect to Microsoft's motives. Why do they always have to be evil?

    Cheers
    Mark Levison
    The Agile Consortium

  • Re: I'm always amazed at the level of paranoia...

    by Cameron Purdy /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    > ...with respect to Microsoft's motives. Why do they
    > always have to be evil?

    A number of us have wondered that for years .. I suppose we could ask them?

    Peace,

    Cameron Purdy | Oracle Coherence
    coherence.oracle.com/

  • Re: I'm always amazed at the level of paranoia...

    by Mark Levison /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Sorry I was in a hurry and mis stated. What I meant is why does everyone always assume evil from MS. They're a large organization built of many people. Each has a different intent. Some good, some not. Why don't we assume good intent until proven otherwise. That's what I assume of Oracle :-)

    Cheers
    Mark Levison
    The Agile Consortium

  • Re: I'm always amazed at the level of paranoia...

    by Dan Tines /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    It's usually just open source zealots and java developers that think Microsoft is evil.

    The rest of the world isn't so brain dead.

  • Re: I'm always amazed at the level of paranoia...

    by Dan Tines /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Besides, Larry Ellison and Oracle are bigger assholes than Gates, Ballmer, and Oracle could ever be ;)

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