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Microsoft Shares 1 Million Lines of Code

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday declared that it had published more than 1 million lines of .NET-related source code under its Shared Source Initiative.

The Shared Source initiative servers as a counterweight to the much broader sharing and usage allowed with open source. Over the last year, Microsoft has been busily attacking the open source approach, represented by Linux and Apache. The open source community has been publicly attacking Microsoft for years.

Specifically, Microsoft has chosen to share the source code of its C# development language and its Common Language Interface (CLI). Microsoft describes C# as the first component-based language for C and C++ developers. It defines the CLI as a subset of the .NET Framework that includes the runtime capabilities and base class libraries needed for building, deploying and running XML Web services. Specifications for both C# and CLI have been ratified by the ECMA standards body, a move that pokes a finger in somebody else's eye -- Sun's. Sun Microsystems submitted Java specifications to the ECMA but later withdrew Java from consideration, keeping the direction of the language entirely under its own control.

The Shared Source CLI implementation will be published as source code under Microsoft's Shared Source licensing framework. It will run on Windows XP and FreeBSD and is designed to be used for academic, research, debugging and learning purposes.

Eric Rudder, senior vice president of the Developer Platform and Evangelism Division at Microsoft, positions Microsoft's move as an attempt to woo developers and spur innovation.

"The academic community plays a critical role in the software ecosystem as the launching pad for the next generation of developers," Rudder said in a statement. "Academia has delivered many breakthrough innovations through pure research. With the Shared Source CLI implementation, we hope to see great innovation around .NET technology."

Tim O'Reilly, founder and president of book publishing company O'Reilly & Associates, called the Shared Source license "a bold experiment for Microsoft," although O'Reilly made sure to draw a distinction between Shared Source and open source.

"It enables the academic community to study the code and share its ideas (even if they can't use it verbatim for commercial use)," O'Reilly said in a statement distributed by Microsoft.

"We need more experiments such as this to understand what's science and what's religion when it comes to the effectiveness of different types of software licensing in spurring innovation," O'Reilly said.

About the Author

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

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