Microsoft open sources .Net Micro development framework

Version 4.0 has been released under the Apache 2.0 license, but the TCP/IP and cryptography stacks were not open sourced

Microsoft announced on Monday the release and open-sourcing of its .Net Micro Framework 4.0, which provides a .Net-based development and execution environment for small devices. But the TCP/IP stack and cryptography stack were omitted  from the open source effort.

Version 4.0 is available under an Apache 2.0 license. Microsoft still intends to remain actively involved in development of the framework, said Microsoft's Peter Galli, senior open source community manager, in a blog post.

[ Recently, the Microsoft-backed CodePlex Foundation for open source projects outlined project submission guidelines. ]

"While the license will allow customers to take the code and make specialized versions to fit their needs, customers told us they wanted Microsoft to stay involved to avoid any possible fragmentation of the platform," Galli said. The Net Micro Framework 4.0 effort was revealed at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles.

As part of the open source move, developers get access to source code for almost all of the product, including base class libraries and CLR (Common Language Runtime) code. The libraries contain implementations of primary functionality that managed applications call into for communications, system functions like threading, UI and more, according to Microsoft's Colin Miller, program manager for .Net Micro Framework.

"However, both the TCP/IP stack and cryptography libraries are not included in the source code," Galli said. "Program Manager Colin Miller told me this was because the TCP/IP stack is third-party software that Microsoft licenses from EBSNet, so we do not have the rights to distribute that source code. If someone needs to access the source code for the TCP/IP stack, they can contact EBSNet directly."

"As for the cryptography libraries, they are not included in source code because they are used outside of the scope of the .Net Micro Framework. Customers who need to have access to the code in the cryptography functions will find that these libraries can be replaced," Galli quoted  Miller as saying.

An analyst applauded the open source move but cited the TCP/IP omission as a drawback.

"It's an interesting decision on Microsoft's part and one that seems to acknowledge the benefits of open source in terms of visibility and distribution," said analyst Stephen O'Grady, of RedMonk. "That said, the lack of an included TCP/IP library is likely to throttle interest, because even the "resource-constrained devices" that are the [framework's] targets must function in a network context."

Microsoft plans to establish a core technology team for the framework made up of Microsoft and non-Microsoft contributors. A community also is being formed to help shape direction of the product.

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