Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tainted Heroes?

I am perplexed by the recent Microsoft's {Open Source} Heroes campaign.

Believe me, I am working very hard to fight any bias against the stuff that comes from Redmond (just by respect to the great people they have and the cool stuff they are cooking in their labs). But for this campaign I can not help but smelling something fishy. Maybe because I am (lightly) active in the .NET open source community.

Anyway, for this campaign, Microsoft was granting a Hack Pack containing a trial copy of Windows Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 to open source developers all around the world. How is that going to help the .NET open source community? I do not have the faintest idea. But I can easily see how it can benefit Microsoft, especially when the trial period is over and the hero needs to buy a license.

I do believe there are real open source minded people at Microsoft. I also believe they are not allowed to come anywhere near the marketing department. They probably wear a special dress and have "to ring bells to warn people of their presence" too.

My open source experience in .NET land, compared to the one I have in the Java-lala-land, suggests that the last thing Microsoft developers need is yet another tool-lock-in scheme. I find .NET developers deeply engrossed with their IDE, sorry, with the IDE, to the extent that any project that is not formatted and designed for Visual Studio is a real challenge.

A few years ago, I made the choice to use SharpDevelop for developing NxBRE. The first versions of this IDE were pretty rough but I was immediately convinced by the fact a version of SharpDevelop was not tied to a particular version of .NET. This establishes the necessary distinction between the CLR and the SDK on one hand, and the development environment on the other hand.

So what about our heroes? Open source developers do not need time-trialed (or not) vendor specific tooling. They need 36 hours days and 2 extra arms, something for which Microsoft can not do anything. They also need a community of like-minded developers, something Microsoft should stop smothering and start fostering.