Microsoft is open sourcing .Net libraries. Actually Scott Guthrie is more accurate when he says Microsoft is releasing the source code for .Net libraries. And it will be released under the Microsoft Reference License. William Hurley has the Q&A.
If you consider open source to be a door to walk into the application’s source code, Microsoft is providing peek holes. And mind you, you can only see, not touch. You cannot:
- modify the source code for your customizations
- contribute by modifying the source code to fix bugs that you find
- use the source code anywhere else
- add code to add features or behaviour, not even for yourself
- directly participate in developing .Net framework
Instead you can do all that by giving feedback to Microsoft. When you dig deeper you realize that the source code is being released so that it can help the developer in debugging his/her application. It is mostly for debuggers. No wonder that the download will be easier through another proprietary tool – Visual Studio 2008. While I do not see much use of this release, I did not see any danger too. But Steven J. Vaughn-Nicholas shows how it can be a trap for developers. Even Dave Rosenberg advises to avoid anything released under half-baked reference license.
Microsoft has been having brushes with open source for quite some time now. However, it seems to have caused more of friction than camaraderie. I actually like a lot of open source software on Windows, but most of it is from outside Microsoft.
I hope Microsoft embraces open source, in at least one of their efforts, instead of just playing with it. Studies like most of the commercial software will include open source, and open source is the big disruptor have boosted open source. If releasing this source code is Microsoft’s reaction to this, I think they are on the wrong track, probably in the wrong direction too.