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Crocodile tears for under-fire Microsoft MVP

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Microsoft has adopted a bullish stance in the Most Valuable Professional saga, in which it's making an MVP feel most unvalued. The software giant is threatening Jamie Cansdale for making his product TestDriven.NET work with the free-as-in-beer version of Visual Studio.

Dan Fernandez, Lead Product Manager for Visual Studio Express, has blogged about the incident.

And although he appears to have mastered the trick of typing with a small onion in his eye, he's not giving away an inch.

Adopting the tone of a kindly 19th century schoolmaster who is hurt more by having to render the beating than the beatee himself, Fernandez regrets the willful actions of 'Jamie', and his violation of the "ethos" of the Express product line.

"We even got the General Manager of Visual Studio to personally talk to him on the phone to plead with him to remove Express extensibility," he writes.

Readers of our earlier story will recall that Microsoftees find any show of resistance after this gargantuan concession incredible.

Fernandez also explains why Microsoft doesn't like people allowing extensions in Express editions. Apparently, it's because they make the products too complex for beginners.

Why, that's obviously the reason, now that we have had it explained to us.

Reg readers have also been opining on this David/Goliath confrontation. Jonathan Walls pitches in on behalf of Microsoft:

I'm not sure I understand this one. You say the TestDriven tool is a hobby, yet there are two different editions available at cost on the the website. Clearly this is a commercial product.

Is there a reason you are deliberately misrepresenting the facts of the matter? In general, a principled stand is more impressive when a basic level of honesty is involved.

On a technical level, the APIs covered on the MSDN site will also include functionality intended only for the non-Express editions. It seems entirely possible that publically available APIs could be used to breach conditions of the Express license. A rather disingenuous point he makes, I feel.

Reading the thread, it is clear Jamie was happy to resist on a strict legal basis during non-legal discussions, and now it has gone legal he is using PR activities rather than legal ones. Might I suggest that if he doesn't like the commercial world, he invest his efforts in the open source movement? Or perhaps his motivations are not quite so principled?

I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that there are gaps in the precise wording of the express license, and code from the full Visual Studio products not taken out of the Express version, that make it possible to circumvent the clear intention that the free product for hobbyists is not extensible. A world where the responsibility is on M$ to force their coders to spend time destroying their own code, and to spend even more money on lawyers to construct the perfect airtight license, sounds like a hostile environment for technologists. It makes sense, however, once you find that Jamie wants such an environment because he wants to make money out of it.

Others are more sympathetic to Jamie Cansdale. Thom Lanigan sees a complex and sinister plot:

Does anyone else see the logic in Microsoft's demeanour? It's the perfect ploy to ensure that programmers bend to their will. MS is trying to intimidate its most ardent supporters to gain control of applications to which it does not own the copyright. I'm sure some one of Microsoft's Lawyers got together with some manager in MS and said "Hmmm... This software would look good as a module in our app, but we can't use it without paying this guy for the rights. Lets intimidate him into giving it up, but not until we make him feel special first...

After all, we can't have a monopoly if we don't have control of all the cool toys, and if MS can't have all the cool toys to themselves, maybe someone will go about sharing it with others. That's not the impression MS wants to give, that sharing is an acceptable practise . . . cos that would mean it condones a little competition from the Free Software crowds too.

The best thing Cansdale can do is to fight tooth and nail with MS and GPL his creation if he wants to share it with others.

And Norm is moved by the incident to propose a strange biological theory:

Microsoft is a strange and very scary place. They will kill and eat their own young just to ensure future generations. (not sure how that works, but they do it all the time. :-( )

Stranger and scarier than we knew. ®

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