Microsoft plays nice with open-source developers

Published Date
09 - Jul - 2009
| Last Updated
09 - Jul - 2009
 
Microsoft plays nice with open-source developers

It's a heart warming story of an evil corporation that finally finds it in its heart, to promise not to prosecute open source implementations of .NET. One for the story books...


Mono is an open source project headed by Novell (which also develops the popular openSUSE Linux operating system) which aims to provide people with the tools necessary to compile and run application for the .NET platform.


Since .NET is a patented technology of Microsoft, the free software community has always been skeptical about how safe it would be, legally, to develop Mono, and to develop software. Microsoft has now put the base technologies of .NET under its "Microsoft Community Promise".


The Community Promise is a legally binding statement by Microsoft which ensures developer and users alike, that they may not be litigated against for paten infringement if they develop, use, sell or distribute software that are based on Microsoft patented technologies covered by the Community Promise.


What this means is that Mono and similar projects can be freely implemented by the open source community without fear of litigation, and they can continue to be distributed by under a permissive license. For open source distributions which include the Mono binaries this is good new indeed.


Microsoft's technologies are continually criticized for being limited only for a Windows audience. While Linux still addresses a much smaller audience than Windows, even Microsoft has to realize that it cannot just be ignored anymore. With projects such as this we can think about having a Silverlight Player for Linux and a .NET runtime that transcends platforms. This is certainly a smart move by Microsoft, and with the open source community to pick up its slack, Microsoft is getting a very pretty good deal.