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Red Herring: Open source comes to .Net

Oct 06, 2001, 14:01 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Justin Hibbard)
"At first blush, the Mono Project seems ingeniously subversive. Led by a Boston startup called Ximian, volunteer programmers are attempting to build an open-source version of Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) .Net framework, a set of software parts that could allow the maker of Windows to dominate a new class of Web applications. But Mono's success may hinge on Microsoft's willingness to share lots of underlying details about .Net -- a move that would go against its usual habits.

Open source is the practice of revealing a program's underlying blueprint, or source code, and, in some cases, making it available for tinkering and redistribution through licensing agreements. Microsoft has built its business on commercial software licenses that typically prohibit customers from modifying or redistributing source code. Not surprisingly, the company's executives have expressed ambivalence about open source.

But separately, Microsoft has been an active contributor to software standards. Last October, Microsoft, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HWP) submitted rough drafts for two standards to the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA), an international standards organization. The drafts outlined a programming language called C# (pronounced C sharp) and accompanying software called the common language infrastructure (CLI), which helps run programs written in C#."

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