I’m Kind Of Open Source

The source code for the .NET Framework will be available under Microsoft’s Reference Licensing program, the most restrictive of Microsoft’s shared source licenses. The license allows developers to view the source code, but neither modify nor redistribute it.  The released code will include the .Net Framework Base Class Libraries for basic interaction with an app, ASP.Net for Web user interface, Windows Presentation Foundation for graphics, Windows Forms for user interface interaction, and a few others.  Microsoft has stated there is more to come.

So why would Microsoft do this?  Well, it could help some developers with a particularly tricky problem identify a fix by stepping into the .Net framework code.  It’s possible that some organizations / developers will now have the confidence to use .Net because the have the degree of control needed to fully “bet” on the framework.

Certainly this is a move towards greater transparency from Microsoft –  maybe even a mild nod to the Open Source move in general.  Yet overall, the move strikes me as more of a PR play than something truly useful.  The beauty of open source is letting a large group of people contribute and improve the code base faster than any one single organization could.  Microsoft’s look but don’t touch license of course does not allow for this.

Don’t get me wrong.  We love the .Net framework and Microsoft’s family of development tools and use it extensively with many large clients.  But I don’t see this announcement as terribly useful.  Can anyone enlighten me?

I welcome you comments.
Mike Brannan