You’re treated like a criminal out the door. I won’t go into WPA, the patent policies with Novell and Xandros, or the fact that you have to enter a serial number every time you want to install the operating system. In other words, the average Joe and your grandma aren’t the subjects of this post. Rather, this post is more concerned about the Windows developer. Yes, that’s right, the bread and butter to the Windows community. The brains behind the software that your average Joe and grandma are running, and the fact that Microsoft likes to bite the hand that feeds it.
Techdirt ran an article about a Windows developer who created a software tool for Visual Studio.NET, and Microsoft is threatening litigation, AFTER they initially rewarded him for his work. Here’s the article from Techdirt:
Someone who prefers to remain anonymous, pointed us to the story of Jamie Cansdale. Cansdale wrote an add-on for Microsoft Visual Studio that was so useful that Microsoft rewarded him with MVP status. Then they realized that his add-on was designed to work on the free “Express” version of Visual Studio, and they began to threaten him, saying that he had violated the terms of service. This was doubly ridiculous, since Cansdale notes that, as a hobbyist, he only had access to the free Express version when developing his add-on, so it was only natural that his version was designed to work with it. As Cansdale pointed out that he doesn’t appear to have done anything wrong (and kept asking Microsoft for evidence of what terms he violated specifically), the legal threats just got stronger and stronger, and apparently, the guy has until tomorrow to make changes to the same software Microsoft gave him an award for writing, even though no one can explain exactly what he did wrong or why he received an award one day and a legal threat afterwards. Update: In the comments, someone points us to a detailed version that gives Microsoft’s side of the story and suggests this isn’t as clear cut as the Register’s article would have you believe.
Here’s the lowdown, if you don’t read the story in full at the Register. Basically, a hobby developer created a tool for improving .NET development using all versions of Visual Studio. At first, Microsoft was so impressed with his work, that they awarded him the Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award. It was only later upon discovering that the tool also worked with Visual Studio.NET Express (the freeware edition that can be downloaded from Microsoft’s site), that they revoked his MVP status, and began threatening him with legal action.
Being told how and where Cansdale can distribute his software, when it is apparently not violating any licenses or terms of service, is draconian. If Microsoft feels that they are in the right, and even if they technically are, once awarding Cansdale with MVP, they should not revoked it. Microsoft should have done a bit more research into his work, before awarding him with MVP status. I look at my work in the Free Software community, and my status as an Ubuntu Member. If that status was initially given for developing a software tool, than later revoked, because the tool that I wrote for the Ubuntu developing community actually violated some license or terms of service for another software application, I probably wouldn’t be involved with the project anymore, especially if threatened with legal action. However, I know that as long as I abide by the Ubuntu Code of Conduct, my membership status will never be revoked, other than naturally expiring after 2 years, of which, I’m given the option to renew.
See? This is one of the BIG reasons I don’t run Windows, or want anything to do with it. You are treated as a criminal from the start. Cansdale sticks to his guns, and has even sought legal counsel, which advise him to hold his ground, and that he has used publicly available APIs to Visual Studio.NET Express. So, if using a tool that has such APIs, and enhancing the product with another tool using said APIs, means lawsuits and financial ruin, count me out. Funny thing is, there are still Windows developers and users who seem to put blinders over the issues, as if they don’t exist. Why support a company, software or not, that is going to treat you as guilty, unless proven innocent? Would you shop at a grocery store if you were arrested for potential theft, even if you haven’t started actually shopping?
I guess this would be reason #6 why I don’t run Windows, or develop for that platform. I like my Freedoms, but more importantly, I like the parent company of the product I endorse, namely Canonical, because they respect my Freedoms as well.