Just when I’m thinking how the momentum for M$ will probably kick into gear (JavaOne is over. The JavaFX buzz has died down) M$ drops this gem on the software development world. You’ve probably seen it by now and there are a ton of opinions on the net about it. Here’s mine…
First off, I’m going off of the things I have read – mostly blogger opinions. I’m not a lawyer so I’m sure they have a legal basis for their threats or they wouldnt do it. My opinions stem from the ‘spirit’ of giving software away for free, especially when it has a public API.
Personally, I’m OK with M$ wanting to limit plugins on their free software (VisualStudio Express), but they should have said so in their original VisualStudio Express EULA – unambiguously. How hard is it to say “You can’t create plugins that can be used in Visual Studio Express”? From what I have read, they have a pile of legal crap that says a bunch of jargon that means little or nothing to their audience. Sure, corporate lawyers might see ‘caution’ all over the place, but the guys/gals who are downloading VS Express probably take a gander or two and say “sweet” and move on. M$ is hurting their own supporters. Non M$ developers just look and giggle. M$ developers seem to be split into two camps (at least as the blogs indicate). One camp says “M$ has a right to be ticked and this guy should cease and desist”. The other is somewhat incredulous to the whole issue – amazed that MS is picking on one of their own MVPs and wondering what this all means.
To me, I feel for the guy, but on the other hand he was working with a ‘closed’ platform. This kind of behavior from M$ may, at a minimum, help convince a few developers of the goodness of open platforms.
Look, I’m OK with any company trying to make a buck and protect their intellectual property in the process. But releasing a free public version of a product with a public API and then threatening legal action for using the public API for FREE product creation using the public API without specifically stating the limitation of plugin creation using the API in the EULA just seems wrong (Did that make any sense?). Not to mention this is one of their own previously recognized elite.
Not everybody can be a FOSS supporter. I am. This is hopefully another example of why FOSS and the licenses that go along with it are good things.
Java is entrenched in the FOSS community. It has taken a while to get to where it is now, but its in a good place. For all the .Net developers, I think this is a shame.
I’m probably over simplifying the whole issue, but that’s the way it seems to me. I’m sure the lawyers see it differently. 🙂