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Microsoft releases CE source code

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Microsoft has made a portion of the Windows CE 3.0 available as 'shared source', as promised. Friday's announcement sees a new licence which has at the very least the virtue of simplicity.

As we pointed out in May when Craig Mundie made this pledge, CE hardware manufacturers already have access to this code; so it's a deal with no net downside for Microsoft and it's bound to garner publicity.

Commercial derivatives are a strict no-no, however. The only commercial use sanctioned by the licence is as a reference for Windows CE developers. But you're welcome to send bug-fixes back to Redmond, although we're not sure where lies the reciprocal benefit for developers. Since we thought that the whole of sharing source was to improve and embellish the code, this is a very token kind of sharing.

A less cynical gesture might have seen Microsoft release the CE source and encourage prospective garage IHVs to port CE to new platforms. Then retrospectively bless the ports. But that falls under commercial use, doesn't it?

We can't help making a comparison to Sun Microsystems much-maligned - often quite justifiably - approach to Java. For all its faults, Sun turns a blind eye to Java-compatible clones, notably HP's Chai. It isn't difficult to imagine how long a CE clone would survive.

The source is a 5MB download, and a Passport account is required. ®

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