One way to look at this...

Story: Microsoft makes C# patent promise to unblock MonoTotal Replies: 8
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Jul 07, 2009
4:37 PM EST
Is it is an implicit admission on the part of Micrsoft that there were issues related to their patent threats that were apparently getting in the way of .NET adoption, let alone Mono.

Jul 08, 2009
3:49 PM EST
So does this mean RMS' sails have been properly "un-winded"? That his balloon has been properly deflated?

Jul 08, 2009
4:38 PM EST

They'll sell Sno-Cones in Hades before that happens.

Jul 08, 2009
4:48 PM EST
@devnet Well, I think that even RMS would say that MS's promises not to sue over these selected patents are a small step in the right direction. They probably clarify things for DotGnu as much as for Mono. However, he'd probably also say, and I'd agree that this isn't nearly enough. MS needs to promise not to sue FOSS developers for patent infringement at all. As I've said before, RAND is not good enough. MS has left too big a loophole with only allowing implementations of the ECMA specs. FOSS developers should be free to build (and users to run) any type of runtime or framework whether it is .NET based or not without fear of MS trying to shut them down with some bogus patent infringement lawsuit. Until MS is willing to put down their "nuclear arsenal" of patents rather than just agreeing to a few concessions to placate Miguel and a few others then this cold war has not yet ended.

Jul 08, 2009
4:52 PM EST
"MS has left too big a loophole with only allowing full implementations of the ECMA specs."

I think that's more accurate.

Jul 08, 2009
5:11 PM EST
Gus is right. Only allowing ECMA specs is fine. Requiring the full spec is onerous to me. But I'll wait for a lawyer to weigh in on this.

Jul 08, 2009
5:36 PM EST
I see two undesirable consequences of this:

1. The "all or nothing" requirement means that Internet-based collaborative development is cut off at the knees. The first version checked in to a RCS essentially has to be v1.0. Development versions implementing incrementally more of the ECMA standard cannot be published.

2. Fewer people having access to development versions means less robust testing, which means possible undetected variances from the ECMA standard, which means it wouldn't be covered by the so-called "promise" from MS not to sue.

Still no good, and still the same-o same-o legal stupidity from Microsoft. With this kind of corporate weaseling, who needs conspiracy theories?

Jul 08, 2009
6:42 PM EST
It would be nice to have them drop the "full" part, I agree, but it doesn't make the situation any worse than before.

For example, it was argued that Microsoft could "sue any day now" over Mono and DotGNU for 8 years, and Microsoft never did. What are the odds of them suing "MyDotNET" (fictitious example) in its early stages of development? Judging on past performances, zero.

If they are willing to let DotGNU and Mono slide (and Mono is much more of a threat than any new implementation is likely to be, at least until after it has completed implementing the full spec), then I see no reason they'd go out of their way to sue said new project.

Jul 08, 2009
7:19 PM EST
@gus3 Yes, you are right the "full" part makes it even worse. Too easy for them to just claim that any implementation isn't full or proper in some way and let them weasel out of their promise. That basically renders the promise next to useless except as a PR stunt.

@KernelShepard They have had no reason to sue Mono or DotGnu until one or the other was successful enough to warrant it. Unless a commercial vendor (that wasn't their ally like Novell) that had money put major support behind one or some big user was dependent enough on it to be worth suing (like SCO's suits against some high profile Linux users) it would cost them more in legal fees and expenses than they'd get net positive PR benefit out of it. The ability to generate FUD based on the threat of lawsuits appears to have been one of their major goals. And this half assed promise with a big loophole probably doesn't change that anytime soon. Is the situation any worse? Probably not, but it is looking more like it isn't much better either.

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