Microsoft, .NET Micro Framework, Mono for iPhone – Ouch?

So this will be a minor rant. And as always, this is my pure personal opinion and not related to my job.

So Microsoft broke the stunning news: They are going to open source the .NET Micro Framework under the Apache 2.0 license.

What does this mean? Well – at first glance it is all good news. All the patents covering the .NET Micro framework are nnow available

perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable (except as stated in this section)

where the exceptions are clearly defined and boil down to “sue me and you’ve lost the license rights”, typical covenant language.

So why don’t we all sing and praise Microsoft for this brave step in the right direction? First – there is always doubt when it comes to Microsoft and Open Source. For darn good reasons, I dare say. Think of TomTom and the FAT patent dispute.

Secondly – and IMHO more important – I am quite sure that Novell will not be totally happy – which they won’t admit in public, I dare also say 😉

According to my sources, the MONO project was under pressure to finally make some revenue and one of the possibilities was to produce MONO for an important platform that Microsoft didn’t want to support – the iPhone.

So we now have MONOTouch for iPhone, and suprise, it has a price tag. Even better, it is not open source, accrding to the FAQ:

How is MonoTouch Licensed?

MonoTouch is a commercial product based on the open source Mono project and is licensed on a per-developer basis.

I guess you can see the problem here. Imagine that the .NET Micro Framework is “good enough” for the iPhone. Imagine that the community will soonish deliver a free implementation for the iPhone – who will need MONOTouch?

Now, the MONO people will claim that ofcourse the Micro Framework is incomplete, completely different and of no real use. But nevertheless – Microsoft did something that could become a pain for MONO. Is that what a partnership with Microsoft means? 😉

Let’s wait and see.

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