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Microsoft Slaps Its Most Valuable Professional 474

Posted by kdawson
from the schizophrenic-is-one-word-for-it dept.
Violent Offender writes with a touching story in The Register about Microsoft's awarding of its Most Valuable Professional credential to a British hobbyist, Jamie Cansdale, then turning around and threatening him with a lawsuit for the very software that won him the award. The article links to the amazing correspondence from Microsoft on Cansdale's site.
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Microsoft Slaps Its Most Valuable Professional

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  • by Anthony Boyd (242971) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @12:05AM (#19406757) Homepage

    ...apparently Jamie has until 4 PM tomorrow (the 6th) to respond to the lawyers or remove the offending application.

    If you read through ALL the correspondence (a boring, lengthy exercise), you'll find out a few interesting facts:

    • Weber, the guy at Microsoft stirring up trouble, was a jerk on 3 counts
      • He assumed that Jamie was hacking the low-end free version of Microsoft's products, when in fact Jamie used APIs published by Microsoft
      • Weber was rude
      • Weber wouldn't state what part of which license Jamie had violated. This is the boring part of the correspondence, because Jamie asks over and over again, and keeps getting back generalities such as "the relevant parts apply." That is crazy making, and I would not at all be as polite as Jamie has been.
    • Now that lawyers are involved, it's pretty clear how Jamie violated their terms.
    • Jamie is looking for a way to "stand up to the bullies" so to speak, even though it's now clear how he violated Microsoft's contract. That's not to say he's BAD -- he's quite great, actually, with a great product, too -- but now that MS has said "here is what you violated, please correct it" he should correct it. With no tricks, no reinstating the feature months later (which he has done once already).

    The end result is that Jamie wants to fight it, but if he does, he's gonna lose in court. However, he is very very right in one aspect -- Microsoft deserves a black eye over this, and I don't blame Jamie for wanting to punch them in the face. I don't think Microsoft/Weber was particularly evil, but they were slightly rude and rather stupid. They would not answer Jamie's requests, over and over again. If they had just answered him plainly and clearly, this would have been solved a year ago.

  • Re:DUPE (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @12:36AM (#19406943)
    They no longer show up. The editors claim "dupe" is special and notifies them rather than showing up... but, uh, apparently they have to be paying attention.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @12:38AM (#19406963) Journal
    Could you quote the portions of the terms of service that the programmer violated? The only restriction I was aware of on express was that you weren't allowed to use it for commercial development. TestDriven.NET is free, not a commercially driven product.
  • the APIs (Score:3, Informative)

    by Phil246 (803464) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @12:50AM (#19407055)
    If these ( publically documented ) APIs exist in the express products, then isnt tacit permission being given for other developers to use them in products that implement the API? Its like having a door on a building, then saying "you cant go through this" in a eula. If you dont want people to use it, dont implement it in the first place.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @12:51AM (#19407059)
    Hmm. I just re-read the same emails. I still couldn't find a clear answer as to how he violated their terms. In fact, it is apparent from the emails that MS was very careful not to say anything actionable.

    As for "reinstating the feature months later", the emails speak for themselves:

    May 6, 2006 "...I have removed the Express SKU integration..."
    May 13, 2006 "You obviously want me to remove [a registry key that allows testing the system on two different for-pay SKUs] so I have done so."
    May 13, 2006 (Jason Weber, MS) "Later"
    Feb 22, 2007 "last year...I said that I would need a statement that I could give to my users about why the Express SKU was no longer supported. I continue to get emails asking why TestDriven.NET no longer works with Express. Please can you confirm that the points above are why you believe I was in violation."
    Feb 26, 2007 "Your delayed response leads me question whether you ever had reason to believe I was in violation of Microsoft's license terms. If this is not the case I request that you let me know immediately. Any further delay will lead me to re-enable Express SKU support without notice."
    Apr 7, 2007 (Jason Weber, MS) "We just noticed that you re-enabled..."

  • by Timesprout (579035) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @01:17AM (#19407221)

    TestDriven.NET is free, not a commercially driven product.
    You must have missed the purchase section on the site with prices up to $10,000 for 100 licence packs.
  • by Anthony Boyd (242971) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @01:19AM (#19407237) Homepage

    He was hacking. He uses the a property of user controls to allow him to inject his code into VS to replace the Addin Manager MS removed.

    Um, OK. I guess I defer to you, as I'm not an MS developer. But Jamie maintains that he only used methods documented by Microsoft itself. So if he was hacking, it was MS-approved and MS-documented hacks that were used. I would tend to think that means it's not hacking, but is instead programming as proscribed by the company.

    This has been going on for two years now. He has been asked nicely and has reneged on previous agreements. Now surprise surprise they are pissed with him.
    OK, again, I guess I have to defer to you. You're stating your opinion, and you're free to have it. However, I can't share your opinion. I've read it all, and I feel that Weber was rude almost from the start. In addition, if Microsoft is frustrated that they asked nicely and didn't get the results they wanted, I feel they need to blame themselves. The only reason that I can see that it didn't work out as Microsoft wanted is because they wouldn't answer Jamie's questions. He wasn't going to cripple his product without some justification for it, and yet over and over again Microsoft ignored that request or answered in generalities. You can blame Jamie, if you want. But I'm going to say that Microsoft was handling members of the developer community very poorly there.

    Weber wouldn't state what part of which license Jamie had violated.
    He has been informed it was the section about complying with the technical limitations of the application.

    Uh, yeah, a year after he asked! What was it, 5 days ago that they finally told him? That seems a bit tardy, so I'd not give Microsoft a break on that count.

  • But Stay Tuned! (Score:5, Informative)

    by twitter (104583) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @01:30AM (#19407315) Homepage Journal

    Tomorrow is special. It's the deadline M$ gave him to remove Express support.

    Thanks for pointing to the old article. The Dan Fernande's letter [msdn.com] is priceless entertainment parodied in the following Power Point Slide:

    Please Don't Help Express Users
    by Dan Fernandez

    • We've done so much for you, even calling you on the phone - twice in two years.
    • Most people prefer our no cost version, they are not Professionals and some admit it.
    • Non Professional users are easily confused, please don't make their life easier with confusing choice.
    • Back when I programmed in BASIC, I would not have wanted anything else.
    • I know Professionals who can't code.
    • Helping people violates our "ethos"
    • We are going to pick up our toys and go home now and it's all YOUR FAULT.

    Why do they try? There's no way for them to win this.

    Let's see what happens next! Will they stop issuing Express, remotely disable it and then sue Jamie? Do they leave him alone and let it keep working with ... the appropriate apology? Ha!

  • by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @01:35AM (#19407345)
    Except that "public" APIs aren't being used in this case.

    http://blogs.msdn.com/danielfe/archive/2007/06/01/ testdriven-net-and-express-technical-information.a spx [msdn.com]

    Friday, June 01, 2007 3:20 PM by danielfe
    TestDriven.NET and Express - Technical Information
    I quickly wanted to respond to questions or misconceptions raised in the comments of my previous blog post.

    A common question or misconception in the comments is saying that if didn't want extensibility we should have provided technical limitations to prevent extensibility (see comments: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18).

    Express Extension Workarounds
    To respond, Visual Studio Express extensibility is limited in a number of ways. One way it is limited is that it does not permit extensibility through Macros, Add-Ins, or Packages. It attempts to reserve these limitations by technical means. Some examples of these technical limitations are that there is no Macros IDE, there is no Add-In manager, and registered Add-In's and Packages are not loaded at startup. The only way to even extend Express is to work around these in-built technical limitations and that is prohibited by the License.

    For a high-level overview on how TestDriven.NET works around technical limitations, here's a response from our development team:

    **
    The TestDriven.NET product is implemented as a Visual Studio Add-In. In the Visual Studio Standard, Professional, and Team System SKUs, TestDriven.NET is installed as an Add-In and gets loaded into the IDE through the Add-In Manager. In the Visual Studio Express SKUs, because we disabled extensibility (macros, Add-ins, and VS Packages), the Add-In Manager is removed and therefore Add-Ins are not detected or loaded. Jamie has created additional components specifically for the Express SKUs to work around this technical limitation. He takes advantage of an extensibility point that allows user controls (such as a button class) to customize entries in the Properties window. When his property extender gets called, he executes code that finds, loads and injects the TestDriven.Net assembly into the Express SKU's running process, thus replacing the functionality of the removed Add-In Manager. This explains why he instructs Visual Studio Express users to open the Properties window in order to enable TestDriven.NET. Once his code is injected into the Express SKU's running process it can add menu items, enable features that were disabled, and in general take over that instance of Express. These special loading mechanisms that Jamie has built exclusively for the Express SKUs are unauthorized workarounds to the SKUs' technical limitations.
    **

    For an analogy, this would be comparable to someone working around the technical limitations in the personal version of TestDriven.NET to unlock features in the professional or enterprise versions for free.

    What complicates this even further is that this isn't a developer doing this for his or her personal use or experimenting with our product, this is a business trying to sell a product. We tried for close to two years to get Jamie to stop releasing the Express version of TestDriven.NET without success.

    I hope this helps clarify some of the questions or misconceptions surrounding this issue.

    Filed under: Visual Studio Express
    Comment Notification

  • by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @02:02AM (#19407483)
    I know that most slashdotters don't even want to hear Microsoft's side of the story, but for the few that might, read these two blog entries by Dan Fernandez:

    This gives MS's side of the story, including the two-year history of this issue:
    http://blogs.msdn.com/danielfe/archive/2007/05/31/ visual-studio-express-and-testdriven-net.aspx [msdn.com]

    This follow-up blog entry gives technical details on the hacking required to get TestDriven.NET to run in VS Express:
    http://blogs.msdn.com/danielfe/archive/2007/06/01/ testdriven-net-and-express-technical-information.a spx [msdn.com]

    You might want to weigh both sides of the story before choosing one side or the other.
  • by largesnike (762544) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @02:58AM (#19407761)

    the dev is actually threatening to re-enable the Express support if Microsoft doesn't keep corresponding with him


    he actually threatened to re-enable the Express support if Microsoft didn't clarify where his software violated the license agreement.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@mEULERac.com minus math_god> on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @03:12AM (#19407829) Journal
    It doesn't. Those people aren't helping Apple's business.

    -jcr

  • Re:They're idiots... (Score:3, Informative)

    by aussie_a (778472) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @03:15AM (#19407843) Journal
    Copyright licenses are not EULAs. The only thing this person could have possibly broken is a EULA. As such saying he should be allowed to break does not equate with being able to break copyright licenses, unless you believe all laws are equally right. I believe many black people and homosexuals would disagree with you on that point.
  • by RealSurreal (620564) * on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @04:24AM (#19408133)
    Copyright is the right to make copies. It has nothing to do with use.
  • Reverse engineering (Score:5, Informative)

    by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:15AM (#19408375)

    It is important to note, that in the EU, you have a right to make your products compatible, even if it takes reverse engineering. This right you can not in any way give up in any contract (according to EU law). So if he makes the product in the EU, then he is bound by EU law and can publish the product and even sell it, all he want.
    This is a fairly complicated issue. According to a legal lecture on the subject which I attended recently it seems that in much of Europe reverse engineering is permitted under extraordinary circumstances which surprised me since I always thought (or assumed to be honest) that reverse engineering was completely forbidden by law. These laws vary by country and the laws permitting this aren't unrestricted in the degree of reverse engineering they allow although a lot of people seem to assume they are. If, for example, you want to create a mail client capable of communicating with a Microsoft Exchange server and Microsoft is (hypothetically) flat-out refusing to furnish you with technological documentation at all (I have never written an Exchange enabled mail client so I don't know how difficult they make the process) there are countries whose laws will give you a case for reverse engineering the protocols involved etc. other countries are more conservative in this. However, even if you think you have a legal case, if Microsoft lawyers up locally and sues you in your home country, you still have to show that they were being totally unreasonable towards you in your attempts to obtain documentation in order for your claim of forced reverse engineering to stand up in court. I don't claim to be a legal weasel, and there is probably a lot more to be said about this issue than I have done here, but I think we can conclude that reverse engineering the products of a major software giant is risky business that can become very expensive even if you have the law on your side.
  • Re:internets (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:42AM (#19408469)
    > What operating system controls the majority of the internets? And what company owns that operating system?

    Cisco IOS and Cisco Systems?
  • Re:But Stay Tuned! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @11:32AM (#19411371) Homepage Journal
    You assume he entered into a license agreement, why? Ignoring the legality of EULAs for now, what if he never bought or used Express at all? Maybe he wrote his software legitimately under the license for non-Express versions, and it just happens to work on Express?

There can be no twisted thought without a twisted molecule. -- R. W. Gerard

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