Free Windows Forms Code?

A Microsoft manager’s call to freely show part of
the code to the next-generation .NET software is being met with jeers
and cheers.

In his blog last week, Shawn Burke, a development manager on
Microsoft’s Windows Forms team, suggested that Microsoft release parts
of the Windows Forms code and product database to help developers debug
their Rich Media applications. The release would not be a traditional
open source project subject to a GPL, but would be widely available.

“There are a set of issues here, and let me tell you that not
everyone here is a big fan of it,” Burke said in his blog. “But I think
I can do it (other teams are trying as well).”

The software is a wrapper that fits around the core of Microsoft
Windows (Win32) code, and is part of this summer’s release of .NET Framework 2.0. Windows Forms and the .NET Framework.

Burke said Microsoft execs concerned about losing intellectual property rights and licensing revenue initially resisted his idea.

“There are two major issues,” Burke wrote in his blog. “One is
Intellectual Property, but I’m comfortable with what’s in Windows Forms.
And let’s be honest here, there have been tools around for a few years
that basically are exposing this anyway.”

Microsoft has not officially endorsed the code release suggestion,
but according to Burke, could get the green light if the commentary
section of the code could be cleaned up to exclude unprofessional
remarks.

Chris Flores, lead product manager for the developer and
platform evangelism division at Microsoft, told internetnews.com
that Burke is one of many bloggers who is free to express an opinion,
but he does not set company policy.

“We already release the source code within our Microsoft Shared
Source program and for our MVPs [Most Valuable Professional],” Flores
said.

This is why Burke has asked for help from MVPs to help make the code
“customer ready.”

“I mentioned the MVPs specifically because some of them have already
seen source and whatever is in there,” Burke said. “I’ve been trying to
think of ways to leverage the community in general and specifically MVPs
so that we can have a more symbiotic relationship. In this case, since
there is already an agreement in place for them to view the code,
they’re seeing it warts and all already.”

Eric Andrae, director of strategic relationships at software development tools maker Infragistics and a former Microsoft employee, said the release of Windows Forms code would be a very valuable thing for developers.

“It basically helps them debug their applications by following along
with Microsoft’s code,” Andrae told internetnews.com. “It’s not a
Herculean effort, and it’s not likely to delay .NET. What it may signal
is that Burke’s team is either on schedule or ahead of schedule with
their part of the 2.0 release and that they have the time to come up for
air and look around.”

Whether or not Microsoft makes the Windows Forms code available to
developers, the company has been focused on showing more transparency in
its processes.

During their keynotes at the VSLive! 2005 developer show in
San Francisco this week, Microsoft executives “Soma” Somasegar and Eric
Rudder highlighted upcoming developments
in its Longhorn subsystem Avalon
and its unified programming model for building service-oriented
applications called Indigo.

Both developer tools are expected to have a preview available in
March 2005 along with the delivery of Microsoft’s WinFX.

Previous articleCisco Misses Again
Next articleAbout.com on The Block

News Around the Web