Microsoft Shares Source Code to the .NET Framework

I saw this on Scott Guthrie's blog yesterday (I must have had a brain freeze for leaving him off my blogroll): Releasing the Source Code for the .NET Framework Libraries

This is good to see. And this is great news for software developers. For this post, let's leave out the obvious technical reasons as to why this is a good idea for .NET software developers. Releasing the .NET Framework source in and of itself is to me, maybe surprisingly, really not the biggest news. We have been able to "view" the source code for a while now (thanks Lutz!) -- although, being able to "step" into the .NET Framework code in the debugger is huge!

Let's instead focus on the business perception reasons. Microsoft has been slammed by many a person for being the 800 pound gorilla, an opportunistic monopoly, the evil empire, the company that pretends to care about software developers but doesn't, <insert your Microsoft slam here>. Many of these come from the open source community. While Microsoft isn't releasing the source to Windows or Office to the world, the .NET Framework is hardly a flash in the pan. I mean, they are integrating the .NET Framework and all of its siblings and underpinnings into many cash cows, including Windows. With this release, Microsoft is taking a huge step to fully understanding the importance of the software development community. I see this as just one of many steps that Microsoft is going to take in the future to make it real easy to have software developers target .NET, Windows and/or Microsoft technologies in their development --- one semi-bold prognostication I have (and others do too) is the *full* .NET Framework on the Mac, not just via Silverlight.

This alone won't change many of the "gorilla" perceptions that people think about Microsoft, but it's all about baby steps, and I think the baby is beginning to at least toddle around now.

Oh, and to those that think the licensing is's nothing that isn't expected. All it is really saying in a nutshell is that you can view the source code but can't modify it. That is perfectly reasonable. Microsoft is not a purely open source company, and won't be, so this licensing allows exactly what the intention of the announcement is -- for you to view the source code during your development process.