Facilitating the Spread of Knowledge and Innovation in Professional Software Development

Write for InfoQ


Choose your language

InfoQ Homepage News Why .NET Micro Really Went Open Source

Why .NET Micro Really Went Open Source

Leia em Português

This item in japanese

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.

Rate this Article