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Attracting Students to C# With FreeBSD

Microsoft Corp. is working with Corel Corp. to get its C# programming language running on the open source FreeBSD operating system.

Microsoft announced the decision Wednesday. In formal terms, Microsoft and Corel are working on a shared source implementation of the C# programming language and common language infrastructure specifications. The implementation will run on FreeBSD and Windows.

It will be published as source code under Microsoft's Shared Source licensing framework. That's Redmond's response to open source and the GPL.

The project with Corel comes after Microsoft invested $135 million in Corel in October. Part of that deal was that the companies would work together on .NET.

Microsoft says the project is intended for academic, research, debugging and learning purposes.

The company's announcement included a statement from MIT computer science and engineering professor Hal Abelson, who said, "Microsoft has an unprecedented opportunity here to establish the Web service vision as a fundamental element of computer science education, by enabling students and teachers to use this implementation as open source software that everyone can learn from, build upon and share."

Giga Information Group analyst Rob Enderle says Microsoft is trying to win the hearts and minds of computer science college students who are currently enamored of Linux and open source.

"The problem they're trying to address here is the fact that they were losing education. People coming out of schools were going to carry an advocacy for anything but Microsoft," Enderle says. "They had to go back and try to recapture education. This is an attempt to go back in and stop the same kind of thing that happened with mainframe's COBOL."

If the program succeeds it will produce a crop of C# developers who will ensure the health of .NET products when they enter the workplace, Enderle says.

Corel has experience with Linux, having produced a Linux distribution, and much speculation surfaced when Microsoft invested in Corel that it would use the company's expertise to bring Microsoft products to Linux.

Tony Goodhew, product manager for Microsoft's Shared Source CLI, explained the FreeBSD decision this way: "FreeBSD has traditionally been a platform for unencumbered experimentation."

Giga's Enderle maintains Microsoft chose FreeBSD because it's "viewed as being neutral, whereas Linux is viewed as being a competing platform."

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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