The pot calling the kettle black

Who's the pot? Microsoft. Enough with the craziness over Jamie Cansdale's excellent (read:must install now) addon for Visual Studio TestDriven.NET. I'm a huge fan of the tool (bought a copy to support Jamie and his excellent efforts, I recommend any good developer to do the same) and have supported Jamie in his efforts, especially after they booted him from the MVP program over some questionable tactics and reasoning. I followed him via emails and his blog posts discussing the matter and the sillyness of it all. Now it's come to a head.

The last few days it's been legal mayhem on his blog, posting the various letters and emails he's been getting and sending to MS lawyer-types. What really peeves me the most is the clause in the EULA that they are griping over:

"...you may use the software only as expressly permitted in this agreement. In doing so you must comply with any technical limitations in the software that only allow you to use it certain ways... You may not work around any technical limitations in the software."

What a load of crap. I'm sorry but let me rattle off two very big tools from Microsoft that voilate this EULA: Popfly Explorer and XNA Game Studio. Both are "add-ons" that only work with the Visual Studio Express SKU.

Since when does building a tool that simply automates running a unit test runner constitute working around a technical limitation? Is the technical limitation that VSExpress doesn't have support for unit test frameworks. If that's true, then any macro that shells out and runs nunit-console.exe could be considered in volation. If they're willing to stretch TestDriven.NET to fall into this category, then I call foul on Popfly Explorer and XNA Game Studio. They are "manipulating" how Visual Studio Express works and there's obviously a technical limitation in that Visual Studio Express, OOTB, does not support the XNA content pipeline or understand Popfly so again, someone is in voilation here.

Unfortunately for Jamie, he's between a rock and a hard place. EULA are just that. Agreements. IANAL but from what I know of past issues concerning EULAs, they're not legally binding. However with the Microsoft Man behind this nobody is going to be able to stand up (legally) against them.

So is Microsoft going to sue themselves? Might as well, since the lawyers are already doing a damn fine job at making an ass out of themselves.

My advice for Jamie, 1) pull the support for the Express SKU (again) if that will appease the Blue Monster and 2) contact the EFF. They have a good track record in these type of things and might be able to support you. I know I will so just yell if you need me.

4 Comments

  • Popfly and XNA are both created by Microsoft, though, right? They own the EULA, so they can break it when they please. (It's intended to protect their interests.)

    Not that I'm defending Microsoft in this nonsense! They have every right to protect their intellectual property, but they should remember that when it comes to developer tools, the power comes from the community. The whole thing just stinks to high heaven.

  • Surely you understand the difference between a company having complete control over it's own products and intellectual property and how they are used, from a third party trying to accomplish the same thing? This is no different than the XBOX or PSP saying that you cannot modify their firmware, even though they are free to do so.

    Microsoft put out the Express SKUs and clearly intended them to be limited versions of their commercial products. They have always been upfront that they didn't want add-ons created for these platforms because it undermines the market for their commercial product. The alternative was no Express SKUs at all. If TDD.Net is allowed to create extensions for Express SKUs, then why not every other component vendor? It is not hard to take this to its logical conclusion that component vendors could easily add in just about every feature that is missing from the Express SKUs.

  • BALONEY!

    Take a look at **JAMIE'S** license agreement. Why don't I read part of it for you? (ahem) Section 2.2 of his license reads, and I QUOTE:

    "2.2 Except as expressly permitted in this Agreement, Licensee shall not, and shall not permit others to: ..... (v) use the Software in any manner not expressly authorised by this Agreement.:"

    Jamie Cansdale is a hypocrite and should be exposed as such. You shouldn't be treating him like he's some open-source martyr or anything like that. He's playing on the sympathies of everyone on the Internet, trying to be the poor, abused "little guy" when he's behaved even worse than MS in this matter. I mean, he agrees to take down his VS.NET Express plugin, and then re-introduces it into Orcas, advertising it to the world? Hello, can you say "acting in bad faith"?

    I posted an entry to his blog saying this, and guess what -- it got "moderated" out of existence.

  • David, you didn't really read all the emails Jamie published, did you?

    Because if you did, you would have noticed that Jamie reintroduced the Express support after Microsoft failed to explain how Jamie violated the EULA. Also, Jamie's lawyer says there aren't any violations.

    So what would you do, if it were your product, your lawyer say go, and your opponent dodge your questions?

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