Microsoft and TestDriven.NET…. I don’t get it

Sunday, June 3, 2007 7:20 AM
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Many others have already voiced their opinions on the matter like Bil, Phil, Frans, and MSFT’s own Dan Fernandez among others on the soap opera known as Microsoft vs. TestDriven.Net / Jamie Cansdale. If you aren’t aware of what’s going on, here’s the skinny:

  • Jamie released a version of TestDriven.Net as an open source project that works with the Visual Studio 2005 Express SKU’s. However, the VS Express EULA states that it can’t load any add ins (paraphrasing here).
  • Microsoft contact Jamie asking him to remove that bit… he did… but then added it back.
  • Jamie & Microsoft have been talking quite a bit via email & phone about the issue… but it’s recently come to the point where lawyers are involved.

If you want to see good documentation of the saga… check out Jamie’s post here. He’s even included the letters he’s received from the lawyers.

Now, it seems most people are on the side of Jamie… saying that if you aren’t supposed to be creating add ins to be loaded in any of the Visual Studio Express editions, Microsoft should have crippled the app so it won’t load the add ins at all (ok,I agree with that point). In addition, many say that Microsoft isn’t playing by it’s own rules as they created add ins for the Express SKUs for Popfly Explorer and XNA Game Studio Express among others.

But does that really matter? Here’s where I’ll likely get slammed. In my opinion, no. Someone made the analogy that it’s the same thing as cops breaking the law… um… no it isn’t… not anywhere close.

First, let’s push aside all the noise and look at the issue… the EULA states you can’t break load add ins in the Express SKU. Jamie isn’t breaking it by creating TestDriven.Net which does load as an add in, but the users are most certainly doing breaking it as THEY are loading the add in… just as Bil stated:

Jamie certainly isn’t in the wrong to create the software he did (and MS recognizes this) but users (including himself perhaps, assuming he tested it) are violating their agreement with Microsoft by using it.

However, Microsoft is right in going to Jamie asking him to remove the Express support… why not go to the source and ask them to stop… then you don’t have to go after all the users (including me, but I don’t use the Express SKU’s so I’m ok). That seems like the most responsible and appropriate way to do it. Too bad it’s gone as far as it has.

What does irk me is people taking issue with Microsoft breaking their own EULA. Um… so what? It’s their product… both the host (Visual Studio) and the add in… so what’s the deal? Look, you can’t reverse engineer something that someone else built and include the code in your app technically and call that legal. But someone can take the code from one app they wrote an use it in another… there’s nothing wrong with that… legally or ethically (sure wish the SharePoint Designer team had done that with the dockable & pinnable tool windows like we have in Visual Studio, but that’s a different issue… :)). If you wrote an app and someone was stealing the code from it, or breaking the EULA… wouldn’t you want to have some sort of recourse? I know I would… which is why I just don’t see the validity of everyone causing an uproar over this… I don’t see where Microsoft is in the wrong. Seems to me Jamie is just drawing a line in the sand to… well just to draw a line in the sand, and many bloggers are jumping on the whole “Microsoft is the big bully.” Whatever…

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