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Microsoft Puts C# and the CLI Under "Community Promise" 465

Posted by timothy
from the if-it's-a-trap-please-clarify dept.
FishWithAHammer writes "Peter Galli of Microsoft posted a blog entry on Port25 today, regarding the explicit placement of C# and the Common Language Infrastructure (the ECMA standard that underpins .NET) under their Community Promise: 'It is important to note that, under the Community Promise, anyone can freely implement these specifications with their technology, code, and solutions. You do not need to sign a license agreement, or otherwise communicate to Microsoft how you will implement the specifications. ... Under the Community Promise, Microsoft provides assurance that it will not assert its Necessary Claims against anyone who makes, uses, sells, offers for sale, imports, or distributes any Covered Implementation under any type of development or distribution model, including open-source licensing models such as the LGPL or GPL.'" Adds reader anshulajain: "Understandably, Miguel De Icaza is jumping with joy."
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Microsoft Puts C# and the CLI Under "Community Promise"

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:08AM (#28606163) Journal
    So after reading the article, the source seems to be Peter Galli's blog:

    "The Community Promise is an excellent vehicle and, in this situation, ensures the best balance of interoperability and flexibility for developers," Scott Guthrie, the Corporate Vice President for the .Net Developer Platform, told me July 6.

    Ok, I certainly hope he received more than just that before he began proclaiming to the world that Microsoft is doing such a thing.

    The optimist in me is excited. The skeptical in me is dubious, confused and does not trust blogs. It's not listed on Microsoft's list of products under the Community Promise so I'm going to refrain from breaking out the champagne until all the facts are finalized.

    Anyone else got a better source for this than a loosely affiliated blog that bills itself as "Communication from the Open Source Community at Microsoft" ?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Every blog/news article that I've found about this story links to: http://www.microsoft.com/interop/cp/default.mspx [microsoft.com]
      And I can't find anything on that page that mentions C#. Perhaps I'm reading it wrong...
    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:18AM (#28606267)

      Its not just that its 'promised' to be added to the Community Promise, its only the ECMA 334 and 335 standards that will be added (possibly).

      According to TFA:

      ECMA 334 specifies the form and establishes the interpretation of programs written in the C# programming language, while the ECMA 335 standard defines the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) in which applications written in multiple high-level languages can be executed in different system environments without the need to rewrite those applications to take into consideration the unique characteristics of those environments.

      however.. later on, he says about Mono:

      Astute readers will point out that Mono contains much more than the ECMA standards, and they will be correct.

      In the next few months we will be working towards splitting the jumbo Mono source code that includes ECMA + A lot more into two separate source code distributions. One will be ECMA, the other will contain our implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Winforms and others.

      So really, even if MS adds the 2 standards to their Community Promise, that still doesn't mean you get anything useful - if you write a simple app that does nothing, you're fine. If you want DB access, or web serving, or a GUI.. you're still in the same problem as before.

      • even so, it looks like a positive sign, that the open source business model is gaining ground.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:54AM (#28606591)

          They're letting you implement the specs, but in exchange you're not allowed to challenge their ownership of the patents or copyrights involved. I don't really know if you'd call this open source or just a benevolent gesture on their part.

          • by nschubach (922175) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @09:48AM (#28607225) Journal

            The fact that they worded it "Microsoft provides assurance that it will not assert its Necessary Claims" still freaks me out. It's either open, or it's your claim. It' can't be both.

            • by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @11:15AM (#28608621) Journal

              Yeah, the implied threat is quite menacing.

              "We have this big hammer. Really big hammer, actually. Just acknowledge that it's our hammer, and that's it's a really big hammer, and that we are allowed to hit you with it at any time, and we promise not to hit you with it."

              Makes me wanna rush right out and start developing Mono applications.

              • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:00PM (#28615971) Homepage Journal

                Yeah, the implied threat is quite menacing.

                "We have this big hammer. Really big hammer, actually. Just acknowledge that it's our hammer, and that's it's a really big hammer, and that we are allowed to hit you with it at any time, and we promise not to hit you with it."

                Makes me wanna rush right out and start developing Mono applications.

                As a huge fan of the GPL, I gotta say that's no different than the GPL. "We have the copyright to the software, and we allow you to copy, modify, and distribute the code, but if you ever violate our conditions, we still own the copyright and reserve the right to sue you for breaching." That's perfectly reasonable. So is microsoft's statement. They're basically saying, "you can reimplement this stuff without worrying about our patents, as long as you don't challenge our patents or don't sue us for violating yours. If you do, the claws are coming out." That's pretty defensive.

                Honestly, a "promise not to sue" is legally binding. If they sued you without you violating the terms you literally could show that to the court and they would tell MS to fuck themselves. They have given you an expectation that you won't be sued, so the doctrine of Estoppel [wikipedia.org] applies.

      • by the linux geek (799780) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:29AM (#28606369)
        Sorry, but you're spreading FUD. You can write a GUI in Mono without Windows Forms, and its generally even a good idea anyway since WinForms on anything but Windows looks and works horrible. On Linux its generally done with GTK#.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Tom9729 (1134127)

          It's not FUD. One of the goals of the Mono project is compatibility with .NET applications and that means supporting things like Windows Forms.

          • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @09:10AM (#28606761) Homepage

            It's not FUD. One of the goals of the Mono project is compatibility with .NET applications and that means supporting things like Windows Forms.

            You're right, but the most common criticism of Mono before this announcement was that free software distributed with Linux carried a patent risk. The Winforms stuff is still a goal of the Mono project, but there is no reason for Linux distributions to install it. The non-ECMA parts of Mono are still very useful for companies migrating existing Windows legacy apps to Linux, but nobody would write a new free application with Winforms starting from scratch (GTK# is a lot better).

            So the Windows.Forms and other Microsoft APIs move to a separate 'Mono-non-ECMA' package, which can be treated a bit like Wine: you wouldn't really want to install it by default or develop against it, but it can be invaluable if you have existing Windows software you want to run.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Xtravar (725372)

              nobody would write a new free application with Winforms starting from scratch (GTK# is a lot better).

              I think you're making a leap of faith there. Especially since Visual Studio doesn't have a GTK builder.

        • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:45AM (#28606505) Journal

          If you install libgdi+, Winforms works just find on FreeBSD.

          As for looks that's a matter of taste, I never minded how Windows looks, but Gnome never really suited me. With libgdi+, winforms tend to look a lot like plain old Windows.

        • by Mr2cents (323101) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @09:55AM (#28607341)

          I have very strong reservations against C#, not for the language itself but because it has this name of being a "dot-net language". Everywhere C# is promoted, dot-net is mentioned in the same breath. This is a real issue because if I know anything about Microsoft, it is that they like to keep targets moving. This means dot-net will evolve so quickly that there will only be one complete implementation: Microsofts own one. Combine that with the (wrong) assumption in the heads of many developers that dot-net will always be available, and you get a great recipe for a hell called lock-in. With C++, there is no vendor with this amount of power, and that's the way I like it.

      • by Plug (14127) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:31AM (#28606389) Homepage

        If you want a GUI on Windows, or using the Windows libraries, sure.

        GTK# [mono-project.com] is entirely developed by the Mono project, and requires none of the aforementioned Microsoft parts. That means applications like Tomboy [gnome.org] and Banshee [banshee-project.org] should now be fully RMS-friendly.

        Mono is more than just 'running Windows applications on Linux'. There is a large ecosystem of utilities developed with it, because (a) a properly object-oriented language with native bindings is much better than the C-with-Gobject alternative, and (b) Java was not Free at the time.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tolan-b (230077)

        As far as I understand it none of the Gnome Mono apps use those other libraries. Perhaps ADO.net, I'm not certain.

        Certainly they don't use Winforms, they use the GTK bindings.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Vahokif (1292866)
        Not an issue. [mono-project.com]
      • by Coryoth (254751)

        So really, even if MS adds the 2 standards to their Community Promise, that still doesn't mean you get anything useful - if you write a simple app that does nothing, you're fine. If you want DB access, or web serving, or a GUI.. you're still in the same problem as before.

        I believe it means that if you want DB access, or web serving, or a GUI, you will have to use other libraries that Mono offers, such as GTK# for the GUI instead of WinForms etc. You don't have to use the windows libraries -- it's just convenient to have them available for Mono for cross-platform purposes.

      • So it's still powerfully patent and copyright encumbered: if this blog turns out to be correct, Microsoft will have merely freed up one hand of the prisoner so they can scratch their nose, but not do anything really useful like unlock the other chains.
      • by sfraggle (212671)

        So really, even if MS adds the 2 standards to their Community Promise, that still doesn't mean you get anything useful - if you write a simple app that does nothing, you're fine. If you want DB access, or web serving, or a GUI.. you're still in the same problem as before.

        Not true. The main controversy recently (which presumably was what prompted this "promise") was after RMS warned people against using Mono to develop Gnome applications under Linux. This uses C# as a convenient high level language for Gno

        • by dzfoo (772245) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @09:41AM (#28607105)

          Almost. I present to you, the Mono Project FAQ:

          The Mono Project is an open development initiative sponsored by Novell to develop an open source, UNIX version of the Microsoft .NET development platform. Its objective is to enable UNIX developers to build and deploy cross-platform .NET Applications. The project implements various technologies developed by Microsoft that have now been submitted to the ECMA for standardization.

          (my emphasis)

          That was the main concern of RMS: that the attraction to the project was the promise of cross-platform .NET development, but that such development is ultimately encumbered by patented technologies.

                  -dZ.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ed Avis (5917)

        So really, even if MS adds the 2 standards to their Community Promise, that still doesn't mean you get anything useful - if you write a simple app that does nothing, you're fine. If you want DB access, or web serving, or a GUI.. you're still in the same problem as before.

        There are a few flaws with this argument. Firstly, if you want a GUI then Winforms is not the only choice. In fact, GTK# is a lot nicer, on Windows and Mac as well as on Linux, and all the free Mono apps such Banshee use GTK#, and C# bind

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Requiem18th (742389)

          I'm not aware that they hold enforceable swpats for more pedestrian things like database bindings

          The Orwellian flavor of "swpats" is right on topic. Any other company will give you a license to use their patent, they don't. They give you a "promise not to use our necessary claims".
          As if using Mono is technically illegal but they are nice enough not to sue.
          Quite frankly
          DO NOT WANT

    • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:51AM (#28606543) Homepage

      It's not listed on Microsoft's list of products under the Community Promise so I'm going to refrain from breaking out the champagne until all the facts are finalized.

      According to a comment by Miguel on his blog,

      Brian Goldfarb at Microsoft has said that the update will be coming, it was just not done on time for the Peter Galli's announcement.

  • they must be up to no good.
    • by wjousts (1529427)
      It's a trap!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by wisty (1335733)

        Maybe it's just a sign the Microsoft think they can beat Mono. If Microsoft sets the standards they will have a more mature platform out at any point in time.

        Or maybe they think that a little competition is a good thing?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nschubach (922175)

          As I read in the antitrust documents, Microsoft feels that a "win" in the "war" is for the competition to use their standards. In several email messages and presentations given at MS, they outline this philosophy. They compare it to owning the competition by making them play the game by their rules.

          http://antitrust.slated.org/www.iowaconsumercase.org/011607/3000/PX03096.pdf [slated.org]

  • This shows (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hal_Porter (817932) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:13AM (#28606215)

    Microsoft love us and want us to be happy :-)

  • by viralMeme (1461143) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:18AM (#28606273)
    The 'community promise' does not extend to commercial downstream recipients of open source MONO applications !
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It does not apply to 'partial implementations' either.

      From the FAQ

      Q: What if I don't implement the entire specification? Will I still get the protections under the CP?

      A: The CP applies only if the implementation conforms fully to required portions of the specification. Partial implementations are not covered.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by js_sebastian (946118)

      The 'community promise' does not extend to commercial downstream recipients of open source MONO applications !

      I think that is incorrect. Quoting from the community promise itself (linked in article)

      Microsoft irrevocably promises not to assert any Microsoft Necessary Claims against you for making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or distributing any implementation, to the extent it conforms to one of the Covered Specifications, and is compliant with all of the required parts of the mandatory provisions of that specification

      It includes "using". So I do not receive the rights from the distributor of a MONO application, but I, as a user, am directly granted the right to use it from the microsoft community promise.

      The fact that you have to conform to the standards is however a real restriction. It makes some sense, to avoid someone else playing an embrace-extend-hijack on them, like they tried with Java... however this also means that if I i

  • Sounds promising... (Score:3, Informative)

    by IBBoard (1128019) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:19AM (#28606277) Homepage

    It sounds promising, and it may end up meaning Stallman was wrong all along and that it was safe to implement .Net/C# (which GNU have done anyway). It's be useful to have somewhere slightly more authoritative to hear it from (like Microsoft themselves) but at least people don't need to worry about "arrrghh, it's a patent trap" and can get on with "hurrah! I can focus on coding for the desktop in a decent language rather than having low-level memory concerns etc".

    Not that I ever cared anyway. Stick to the registered standard definition of C# and Microsoft couldn't exactly kill off Mono anyway, as they'd probably have ended up breaching the "fair and non-discriminatory" part of the patent licensing or been forced to give Mono a free license anyway.

    • by geordie_loz (624942) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @09:05AM (#28606691) Homepage
      This doesn't make Stallman wrong all along. The issue Stallman raised is that the situation was not clear enough to have confidence that freedoms would be safe. If this announcement clears that up (as it appears to do), then the situation is *now* clear, and he can change his view based on new facts. That does not mean that he is then made wrong in his previous statements. This statement has brought the information that many in the community were asking for, it doesn't make them wrong for wanting this.
    • by kripkenstein (913150) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @09:27AM (#28606937) Homepage

      It sounds promising, and it may end up meaning Stallman was wrong all along

      You've got the causality exactly wrong. If it wasn't for Stallman and other FOSS people making a lot of noise about this recently, it wouldn't have happened. (Note that I'm not saying Stallman himself is to be thanked for this, it's the general noise about the topic, which he was a part of.)

      There are always two levels to statements such as those Stallman etc. made about Mono. On the first level, they are meant to be taken at face value - their arguments are either valid or not, in and of themselves. On the second level, they are intended to cause an effect of some form, such as motivating certain people to do certain things. In this case, the second level was meant to motivate Microsoft to make the first level (the direct arguments against using Mono) invalid. That appears to have worked (well, once Microsoft formally announces this, presumably soon, but all we have so far is a blog post).

  • It's about time (Score:5, Informative)

    by bmo (77928) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:22AM (#28606311)

    Now Microsoft is estopped from going after people using c# and .net technologies.

    This is the answer I've wanted from Miguel ever since the Novell brouhaha.

    Promissory estoppel serves as a "consideration substitute" in contract law that renders certain promises otherwise lacking in consideration binding and enforceable. In such cases, the promisee's reliance is treated as an independent and sufficient basis for enforcing the promise. Promissory estoppel can be viewed as a legal device that prohibits the promissor from denying the existence of a contract for lack of consideration.

    http://www.lawnix.com/cases/promissory-estoppel.html [lawnix.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by paiute (550198)

      My first response to this news was: "assurance"? WTF? That's like, "My dear, I assure you that I will pull out in time."

      But then I read the post about this action being promissory estoppel. And I am most definitely not a lawyer, but in the link provided, all the cases included "the court decided". So it is not some magical binding spell put on Microsoft. If it is in their best interest to suck portions of the community into their trap and then bring legal action later, they can. And probably will. And they

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bmo (77928)

        You're not allowed to encourage a behavior and then sue because someone took you at your word later.

        That is "setting us up the bomb" and what promissory estoppel is supposed to rectify.

        And I'm not a lawyer. Maybe NYCL or someone else can come here and explain further.

        --
        BMO

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rogerborg (306625)

      So what you're saying is that it's a really well disguised trap?

      Note that what Microsoft is stopped from doing has no bearing on what they can fund other companies to do on their behalf [cnet.com].

      There's no legal basis for any third party to sue .NET implementers, you say? Well, gosh darn, I guess there's no way that Microsoft could fund them to file a bullshit case that drags on for year after year after year, tying up court time, costing the defendants millions in fees, and eating away at the hearts of souls o [groklaw.net]

  • ...and this means? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:26AM (#28606335) Homepage
    Okay, first off - I'm a Linux user. I love FOSS. I'm also a realist - i put my trust in that my staff will be able to write C# apps in Wintendo that will function. I expect in the near future that portions may be converted over to mono so that we may host items on Linux servers:

    http://www.perfectreign.com/stuff/2009/20090312_secure_submitter.jpg

    http://www.perfectreign.com/stuff/2008/20080912_JEDI_Vitals_Screen.png

    http://www.perfectreign.com/stuff/2008/20081205_ie6_yoda_ii_ponte.jpg

    My question is this - does MS moving to a new license change my current licensing? How does it interact with those running SLES or Virtualized Windows 2008 under XEN?
  • by Vahokif (1292866) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:26AM (#28606349)

    "Q: Is this Community Promise legally binding on Microsoft and will it be available in the future to me and to others?

    A: Yes, the CP is legally binding upon Microsoft. The CP is a unilateral promise from Microsoft and in these circumstances unilateral promises may be enforced against the party making such a promise. Because the CP states that the promise is irrevocable, it may not be withdrawn by Microsoft. The CP is, and will be, available to everyone now and in the future for the specifications to which it applies. As stated in the CP, the only time Microsoft can withdraw its promise against a specific person or company for a specific Covered Specification is if that person or company brings (or voluntarily participates in) a patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft regarding Microsoft's implementation of the same Covered Specification. This type of "suspension" clause is common industry practice."

    tl;dr they can't sue you, ever, unless you sue them over patents.

    Also, Mono contains
    1) parts that are covered by the ECMA standard (C# and the CLI)
    2) original namespaces (like Mono.Simd)
    3) open-sourced Microsoft stuff (like ASP.NET, under the OSI-approved MS-PL license)
    4) parts that are in .NET but not covered by the standard (like Winforms)
    which is why Miguel de Icaza says they'll be splitting their distribution up into now definitely safe (1 and 2) and potentially dodgy (3 and 4) packages, which is what already happens on Ubuntu for instance.

  • by iCantSpell (1162581) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:27AM (#28606353)
    C# == Microsoft Java Compare [javacamp.org]

    Why do people think C# is some new amazing language? Clearly MS took Java and gave it a MS framework.

    If you would just use java you probably wouldn't have this fear of MS trying to undermine the OSS movement. When a multi-billion dollar company other than google tries to "help" OSS, you can only be suspicious.

    http://www.javacamp.org/javavscsharp/getStarted.html [javacamp.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Vahokif (1292866)
      No, J# is Microsoft Java. Educate yourself. [wikipedia.org]
    • by Plug (14127)

      If I wanted to develop an app for Windows alone, you had C#/.NET, "Microsoft Java" with a complete native look-and-feel (although I do admit it took until .NET 2.0 to really get there), or "Java" with (at the time) looks-like-Java-on-all-platforms.

      Not to mention the other languages on the CLR.

      As to why Linux didn't pick it up, Java wasn't even really distributable until Sun released it under the GPL, and Mono was way ahead of the IcedTea (free JDK) project - Mono had ".NET does not exist on Linux" as a driv

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:27AM (#28606355)

    Here's why:

    There is no mention of other components [nyud.net] the extend .NET!

    From the document...

    "...We introduce instructions newdata, lddata, stdata, castdata, isdata and
    switchdata to create and manipulate classunion values..." (emphasis mine).

    In fact, this announcement is not much different compared to the one 7 years ago!

    Watch out folks. Microsoft's classic Embrace, Extend, Extinguish paradigm is very possible here.

    • by miguel (7116) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @11:26AM (#28608793) Homepage

      That was a research paper on ILX from 2001.

      The research work from ILX was folded into .NET 2.0 and is part of ECMA 4th edition.

      All of the instructions that you listed are deprecated, they never really made it into .NET, their much improved, polished and battle field tested versions did. And they are the foundation for C#'s generics support and Don Syme's F# compiler, both which run just fine in Mono today.

  • A oft convicted company is now making a 'community promise' - and we're supposed to believe them??!!!

    Grab your ankles, folks, this will hurt us all in the end.

  • by CritterNYC (190163) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:39AM (#28606465) Homepage

    This is nothing new and nothing we didn't already know. It still says nothing about ASP.NET, Windows Forms and all the other parts of .NET that are not part of the ECMA standard. Mono implements many, many things outside the ECMA standard, so anybody but Novell who distributes or otherwise uses Mono is at risk of patent shenanigans.

  • why so happy? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why would Miguel De Icaza be so happy if his previous assertions that there is nothing to worry about mean anything?

  • From the Microsoft Community Promise [microsoft.com]:

    If you file, maintain, or voluntarily participate in a patent infringement lawsuit against a Microsoft implementation of any Covered Specification, then this personal promise does not apply with respect to any Covered Implementation made or used by you

    Is that a patent retaliation clause? Interesting.

    Anyhow, the way I read that, you can't sue Microsoft if they make use of one of your patents in their own implementations, albeit limited to the specifications covered

  • by gwking (869658) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @08:48AM (#28606527)
    I love C# as a language, and .NET has been one of my favorite products from MS, it's great to use for development and seems to be what Java should have been. My concern with this announcement though is that I can't get The Lord of the Rings out of my head... Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to rule them all, One ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by minsk (805035)

      In part I agree with you. In designing C# (and .NET in general), Microsoft correctly identified a lot of the hiccups of Java development.

      Unfortunately, IMO, their solutions were a disaster.

      Erasure-based generics are annoying, but the CE-incompatible hacks of runtime generation are worse. Writing getter/setter for trivial properties is annoying, but limited and buggy syntactic sugar is worse. Having all objects be pointers is annoying, but making structs silently stack-allocated is worse. Needing to use arra

  • As far as I am aware promises have little legal binding. There is always the worry that they will decide that some element "wasn't covered by the promise" and try to collect royalties, or sue for damages. Is it clear where the "open" libraries end and the "closed" operating system call start? (this is a genuine question; I don't know)
  • by mrpacmanjel (38218) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @09:11AM (#28606771)

    I have been following Mono for a while but I am currently still using Java.

    The question is which do I commit to?

    The way I understand it is:

    Java has less "patent liability" than Mono.
    All of Java is under an open license including "essential" libraries (e.g. data access, gui).
    Only the "core" (including the framework libraries?) of .net are covered by the Communtiy Promise but not some of the supporting libraries (e.g. ado.net, winforms).

    I know that these .net libraries have been implemented in Mono but would we have to write new open-source libraries to replace thier functionality and remain "patent-threat" free?

    If this is the case then I would imagine that Java would be the preferred choice IF you had to chose one.

    What are the overheads of both the Java and Mono virtual machines running at the same time? Would we be better getting behind just one environment and using that.

    For what it's worth I really like and prefer Mono - especially Banshee (is there an equivalent for Java?) and I want to develop for it but the Community Promise only covers the ECMA part of .net. Without the other libraries I fear Mono is hamstrung.

    At least with Java I know where I stand, all the libraries are included and the functionality is already there.

    • get real (Score:4, Informative)

      by speedtux (1307149) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @01:57PM (#28611087)

      Java has less "patent liability" than Mono.

      Sun has lots of patents on lots of aspects of Java. The only area where you *may* be safe is if you use Sun's own implementations.

      I know that these .net libraries have been implemented in Mono but would we have to write new open-source libraries to replace thier functionality and remain "patent-threat" free?

      Most people who develop with Mono develop using standard Linux libraries, libraries that are free of any hint of Microsoft patents. That's one of the things that makes Mono so attractive.

      prefer Mono - especially Banshee ... Without the other libraries I fear Mono is hamstrung.

      Banshee, like almost all Mono desktop apps, is based on Gtk#, not Winforms.

      What are the overheads of both the Java and Mono virtual machines running at the same time? Would we be better getting behind just one environment and using that.

      IKVM runs Java inside a CLR. It also neatly avoids Sun's patents.

  • by Lemming Mark (849014) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @09:12AM (#28606783) Homepage

    OK, first off it's excellent news if MS are doing this. It would be nice if they did the same for the parts of Mono / .NET that are outside ECMA.

    As far as motivation for this goes, they're a business for whom pure co-operation seems to have dubious benefits. I assume that they believe that in this case more people using .NET is good for them and that they can compete well on the quality of the implementation and debugging tools (probably true if only because they'll have a head start on new features).

    But the question I'm really curious about: CLI / C# / Mono seems to have generated a massive amount of controversy and therefore a lot of noise. Some fairly popular new apps have been written using it. The whole situation seems to suggest that, whilst using the technology was generally considered to have many downsides, it must have pretty large benefits too: it's not just being suggested as a compatibility library but as a foundation for some pretty cool new stuff. So ... is this really the case? Is it that good that you'd want to write your note taking app in it (Tomboy) even though it's possible to write it in another language (i.e. Gnote)? Are the development tools that much better?

    Or is it the case that a few "killer apps" happened to be written in C# as demonstrations of its abilities - even though another language would have done the job - and those apps are sufficiently desirable that Mono is getting pushed hard so that everyone can have these killer apps by default?

    Personally, although I've not programmed in C#, I'm familiar with a variety of languages and implementation strategies. Different languages are certainly good for different things and more modern languages are typically less painful to work with. C# sounds quite nice. But what I'm wondering is: is the noise and push over Mono as a popular platform a result of it being particularly strong, or a result of a few particularly desirable apps depending on it? Obviously some (much!) of the noise generated is simply due to concerns over leveraging MS technology. But I do wonder how good the technology must be to justify this much noise and controversy!

    • by hoggy (10971) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @10:12AM (#28607613) Journal

      I've used both for serious commercial development and I personally prefer C# to Java. If it means anything, I consider myself pretty impartial, as Java and C# are just two of the dozen or so languages I've worked in and I consider neither to be the most interesting.

      C# and Java are only really similar in the way that you would expect two garbage-collected, object-oriented, C-derived languages to be similar. People who say C# is 95% the same as Java are missing the point: it's the small differences that make one language nicer to use as a developer.

      Your mileage may vary. You should give both a go and make up your own mind.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @10:20AM (#28607745)

      Considering your entire "question" is basically slamming it, I doubt you'll care what people answer.

      But for the record, yes, it is *that* good.

      The controversy is all over political crap, not the quality of the language or runtime. If you want to write software, and don't care about political crap, there's virtually nothing out there better than C# and the CLI right now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      C# sounds quite nice. But what I'm wondering is: is the noise and push over Mono as a popular platform a result of it being particularly strong, or a result of a few particularly desirable apps depending on it?

      Interesting question. I don't think it's to do with the existence of a few desirable apps. I've had plenty of experience with C# / .NET through work, and it's really very nice to work with. The language, the libraries, the platform and even the development environment all add up to a whole which (to my disappointment) I find much easier to work with than any free alternative I have yet discovered.

      I still try to stay away from proprietary technologies in my personal projects, but I can see why people are exc

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Simply put, C# is Java with true generics, RAII, full-featured lambdas with short syntax and ability to mutate captured variables, operator overloading, and opt-in low-level operations complete with pointer arithmetic and unions. (This is still a simplification, but it's close enough).

      If you are a Java coder who understands what the above means, and it makes you go "wow gimme!", then welcome to the club (though you may also want to consider Scala in this case).

      If you understand, but it makes you wince, then

  • by QX-Mat (460729) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @09:52AM (#28607289)

    The lawyers amongst us are leaping for joy. I happen to be a law convert. So ill try and explain why we're happy!

    Promissory estoppel is a legal defence (a so called shield). When a party (A) intending legal relations promises not to assert their strict legal rights, and another party (B) moves to rely upon this promise, that party (A) is estopped from enforcing their rights (against B) by way way of promissory estoppel.

    It goes something like this: Now MS has promised not to enforce their C#-rights , and people rely on this promise, such as start development/deploying C# applications because of this promise, if the case came to court, MS's argument would be estopped by a defence of promissory estoppel.

    It's a little more complicated. For instance it must be inequitable for B if A reneges on their promise (fairly clear if they suffer a disadvantage or loss as 'one who comes into equity must come with clean hands'), the promise must be clear and unequivocal (I'd say yes), there must be a change in reliance on the promise (yes), and it is a shield not a cause of action (in other words, we can't sue MS for revoking the promise, we can simply aovid being sued).

    However, things get a little confusing. MS have declared that this promise is unilateral, in other words, it is a promise to the world without the need for a formal agreement. Such things are valid in the eyes of the law, and enforced by the fact promissory estoppel acts as an equitable remedy - there is no need for consideration, a key ingreediant to the traditional offer/acceptance/consideration contractual model.

    Promissory estoppel is a common law principle. It's basis in England is from Lord Denning's High Court decision in High Trees.

    Law bit:

    In High Trees, due to WW2, the claimant ("High Trees") agreed to reduce rent for a block of flats. After the war, the claimant brought action seeking the past and future rent. Lord Denning said "When a promise is made that is intended to be acted upon, and is acted upon, you are estopped from going back on it."

    In High Trees Denning referred, not to a previous case of Foakes v Beer (about the part payment of debt), but Hughes v Metropolitan Railway to establish his basis for promissory estoppel. In Hughes, it was held that the opening of negotiations for sale of a property had an implied promise not to enforce an outstanding notice of repair that would forfeit the respondents lease.

    Key to the criticism over Denning's decision is that Hughes only suspended rights, whereas High Trees may extinguish them. This position has recently been approved in the UK by the House of Lords in Tool Metal Manufacturing Co. Ltd - the promisor may revive rights by formal notice, unless it is impossible for the promisee to resume his original position.

    Is it impossible to resume the original position prior to this agreement? We're talking about computers here. The agreement has come now, not several years ago. Consider Mono as it is now, as the original position. This is such a contentious area when you consider MS can revoke the promise, creating ambiguity, and because under Coombes v Coombes promissory estoppel is not a cause of action, the Mono community cannot sue MS to enforce this promise!

    Matt

    • Yes, that is all well and good, but you need to read the actual 'promise' [microsoft.com] before you leap to conclusions. It is (in my opinion) somewhat vague. For example, they promise not to assert "necessary claims", which are defined as:

      those claims of Microsoft-owned or Microsoft-controlled patents that are necessary to implement the required portions (which also include the required elements of optional portions) of the Covered Specification that are described in detail and not those merely referenced in the Covered Specification.

      Of course, anyone who thinks they can "design-around" a patent will claim that the patent is not actually "necessary" to the desired function. In order to enjoy this "promise" you have to confess that the only way to achieve the standard is to infringe on a valid MS patent.

      Another po

  • by mrpacmanjel (38218) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @09:54AM (#28607331)

    Thinking about it, the Community Promise is a huge win for Mono.

    The Patent Trap was always a concern when I used Mono. I knew the external libraries ado.net, asp.net and winforms were "tainted" but was always unsure about the "core" on Mono itself.

    Now that the "core" of Mono seems to be free from the patent threat from Microsoft Mono can take a new "patentless" path and develop equivalent versions of the libraries not mentioned in the Community Promise.

    You won't be able to run Windows .net stuff (legally/safely) on Linux but you would be able to run Linux .net stuff on Windows.

    GTK# seems to be a mature gui frontend the only major missing part is .ADO library for data access (unless something is already out there).

    Mono does not *have to* follow Microsoft's upgrade treadmill and keep up-to-date compatibility with the latest version of .net instead concentrate on delivering applications on other systems - Linux, non-windows arm-based processors and macs.

    In the end Mono could embrace, extend and extinquish Microsoft's own implementation.

  • But of course... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpinyNorman (33776) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @10:39AM (#28608051)

    This isn't meant to be helping Microsoft's competitors, such as Linux. Quite the opposite - it's meant to be helping Microsoft.

    Proprietary lock-in the key to Microsoft's business model, whether we're talking about Office document formats, proprietary Internet Explorer extensions and incompatabilities or C#/CLI.

    In this case it seems Microsoft accrues multiple benefits from open source developers who can't resist the free candy being offered:

    1) It helps spread adoption of Microsoft's proprietary standards

    2) It stops open source developers from pushing and developing alternative open source standards

    3) It sets anyone (Mono) reimplementing these standards up for the future rug-pull when they change and/or extend the standard in the future, which will be done according to the needs of Microsofts business model

    There's a reason the document format for Microsoft's office applications often changes from release to release, and it's not simply because new features are added. This is to force people to upgrade - which is the basis of Microsoft's business model. You can be sure that C#/CLI will be managed in the same way - don't expect Microsoft to keep these standards static now that they have "kindly" encouraged you to adopt/reimplement them. Quite the contrary, once there is significant open-source reliant upon them, then they have more incentive than ever to churn them.

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