Look! Microsoft is working hard on building a community!

See it in action here.

Frankly, it doesn't really matter who's right: Jamie or the tie-with-suit (a real software engineer, you can obviously tell) at Microsoft who started this crusade. What matters is this: (the quote is from Ian Ringrose)

"Is it safe for me as a developer without a large legal department to work with Microsoft technology?"

I am more and more getting convinced: no, it's not safe.

Thanks Microsoft, for this big support of our .NET community and .NET tool eco-system. We really needed this positive PR....

Update: Especially read the long list of comments. Ignoring the obvious FOSS advocates, there are two things which are coming back: (also on other blogs, threads)

  1. Why isn't the extension mechanism in VS.NET express simply non-existing?
  3. What's the exact EULA clause that's being violated?

Seems like two easy to answer questions, if I understand mr. Fernandez correctly. And 'ethos' ... ? You gotta be kidding me. This has nothing to do with 'ethos' or 'spirit', but with cold hard cash.


  • Sometimes Microsoft is their own worst enemy.

  • Careful Frans - you might find your MVP logo suddenly disappears in a puff of C&D ;)

  • Considering all the recent "great" PR that's been going on, you think they're just sitting around dreaming this stuff up. I mean, what could be next?

  • I'm not sure you are being fair complaining about FOSS advocates in the other threads.

    Sure there are some whining we can break copyright because we dont like it comments, but that doesn't describe many FOSS developers.The Sane FOSS advocates are making your point nr 2. (And pointing out VS E isn;t the only solution). - And there are enough mad comments in there from Microsoft fanboys too.

    Personally I don't code for .NET , but have a fully copy of VS for C++ development - so I can code what doesn't compile under mingw32 - which I prefer as most of my code needs to cross-platform .

    I agree it comes down to your two points . But it seems microsoft haven't been looking at his code - He says he coded the extension just from publically available docs. I'm not sure the 'cant work around technical limitations' covers it as it doesn't sound like VS-E has a 'technical limitation'

    Until Microsoft actually bother to list there compliant in the sort of fashion that a sensible legal argument can be construed from this whole business is just more FUD.

  • Frans, look deeper. Jamie's license is just as bad. Don't make Jamie out to be some open-source martyr here. He charges $95/copy for each license. That's almost 50% of what Visual Studio Standard edition costs! And have you read the terms of the TESTDRIVEN.NET license? They're just as bad! This guy is a hypocrite, plain and simple, and his product should be flat-out boycotted.

    But this is also about acting in good faith, which Jamie hasn't done here. He basically didn't get his way with something, then posted everything he could to his blogs to make MS look so bad, hoping that the PR backlash will get them to change their license just for him. Baloney. Don't believe the hype.

  • David: I don't care what Jamie's EULA says, nor what he charges. It's about the situation where MS can suddenly jump on you with a phrase "You're not allowed to work around technical limitations", though without naming these technical limitations, so ANYTHING applies, also bug work arounds. Furthermore, he used publicly available code and APIs. So he simply used the functionality available to him to get things done.

    Also, the EULA has nothing to do with this, he still would be in this exact same situation if he would have written the code in sharpdevelop, so he then wouldn't agreed to any eula. Jamie has nothing to do with any eula between MS and some random user in the field, mind you.

    It's also not about acting in good faith. This is business, big business: get the young programmer into using product ABC instead of XYZ. MS doesn't want them to pick testdriven.net, as that would make them later on not choose for the full TFS suite.

  • Jonathan: the extension mechanism is still there, MS' own add-ins (how ironic) use it too (xna studio, popfly etc.)

    I don't care what he used to get his add-in working, it doesn't matter. NOWHERE is stated you shouldn't write an add-in. MS just says that you shouldn't work around technical limitations.

    Well, guess what, we're doing that every day in software developer land: every day we might run into a flaw, glitch, api which isn't designed that great etc. and have to work around that technical limitation.

    It's also not violating any law to do so, as long as you don't alter other people's code. So as long as he uses public api's, he's fully able to do so and SHOULD do so. Don't like that? Well, let's wait till you have to write some piece of code and the API says you can't but after some looking into the API itself you could find a way and you implement that code and you're happy that it works and then suddenly some Lawyer steps up and tells you to remove that code because it's in violation of some eula.

    Again, the eula has nothing to do with this. If MS wants this to go away, go to court. Let's see what a judge has to say about this. I'm pretty sure they won't do that. The thing is: IF they lose it will create a precedent for every developer out there: first call Microsoft before you implement a routine, you might violate some eula you've never seen.

  • Dan, I replied in a follow up post.

  • So by your logic Frans i should be able to create tools that allow others to violate your licensing terms. As long as I don't violate the terms, then that is fine. In the US, this has already been ruled illegal. A tool or piece of software whose normal use requires or encourages users to violate another companies property rights is itself in violation of the law. This is also not any different than a company using licensing code to limit an applications capability for lower cost licenses. As a software developer, it is not unreasonable to believe that I could use APIs to overcome those licensing restrictions that are embodied in the companies code. Heck, virtually every virus and worm uses legitimate APIs to achieve their purpose, this doesn't make them legal. This is exactly what Jaime has done.

  • Frans, I think you are right. The point, to me, is that Jamie used the API to connect his plugin. That's what an API is for. It is an interface (public) so that programmers can hook into the framework. You can't release a public interface and then deny it to the public. If it isn't a public interface then don't make it one. If it is an interface then you can't complain when someone uses it.

  • "So by your logic Frans i should be able to create tools that allow others to violate your licensing terms. As long as I don't violate the terms, then that is fine."
    Yes, because
    1) you're just writing software
    2) you don't violate any law.

    Colt Inc. also doesn't violate any law, though their users run the risk to do so.

    I doubt the US has ruled that as illegal.

    What troubles me with your reasoning is that you apparently want to advocate an environment where a software engineer who's working normally on his/her code has to be VERY careful with every freaking line s/he writes if there's not some big corporate goliath which will crush him/her after a while.

  • >>>MS doesn't want them to pick testdriven.net, as that would make them later on not choose for the full TFS suite.

    I don't think its that. If they allow this addin then tomorrow Resharper and Reflactor will come out with their products for the Exrpess edition hence devaluing the need to buy VS Standard/Professional/... version. Which is not MS wants.

  • you write: "Also, the EULA has nothing to do with this, he still would be in this exact same situation if he would have written the code in sharpdevelop..."

    this is not true. you can't possibly write that code in #Develop without having VS installed and running it. how would you find out what works and what doesn't? how would you test it? clearly, jamie has developed TD.NET using VS (at least to test the add-in, if not to write/debug the code). later he obviously installed VS express and found out that his add-in would not work, and he has clearly spent some time figuring out a workaround. thus he used the product, thus the EULA applies.

  • Let me see if I understand what is going on. Express has a add-in manager, but it has been disabled to stop others from creating add-ins for this product. Jamie created a add-in which he sells, and to make sure it works with all versions of Visual Studio, he created his own add-in manager for Express. And somehow this violates the terms of use on some legal agreement that Jamie agreed to? Not to mention that the individuals asking Jamie to change his program (Jason Webber, Craig Symonds, and others according to the e-mail log) didn't understand this agreement either? (Assuming the e-mail log is correct representation of communications between the individuals.)

    I try not to make wild guesses about how current events will affect the future as anything can happen, however I think Frans may have a valid point here. Perhaps the risk of software development with Microsoft tools will increase because of these current events. Do you make enough income with your software product to have an attorney on retainer to green-light all of your development projects?

    Perhaps what bothers me most is Dan Fernandez post which attempts to polarize the discussion, making this seem like a choice between a strict black or strict white situation when this is clearly a gray situation.

    Oops, Jamie upset the apple cart. I for one think it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. How will this event change the relationship between Microsoft and 3rd party developers? Will it drive developers away? Or will the event inspire a better EULA or EULA system? Or perhaps it will help Microsoft better understand the plight of their developers allowing them to learn from this situation, enabling a better relationship between Microsoft and developers. Like I said, I think this will be interesting.

  • @Stefan

    He initially developed entire addon using VS Express edition, later he got all those goddies from MS after success of his addon.

    Please investigate before dumping poop of EULA on our faces.

  • Vamsee, I read Jamies posts on the subject, I did not read the web end to end. Does that disqualify me from posting?? I don't see how this makes the notion that the EULA of VS express does not apply any more true though.

  • I'm confused about what a "technical limitation" is; it seems to me like this is more about non-technical limitations that have be applied to the Express product line.

    I found it somewhat ironic that it was one of the MS bloggers who divulged the actual technique used to load the add-in.

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