Microsoft May Open Code to Windows Forms

Although there are no dates or delivery mechanisms specified, Microsoft is considering whether and how it should "open source" more of its technology.

Microsoft officials are continuing to ponder what technologies the company should make more broadly available and how best to do so.

And, in an interesting twist, at least in one case, they are using blogs to debate the details.

This past weekend, Shawn Burke, a Microsoft developer division program manager, posted to his blog his thinking about making the Windows Forms source code available to developers.

Windows Forms is a set of .Net Framework classes. It is a key element of Microsofts "smart client" strategy. Smart clients are applications which combine the best of Web applications with the best of Windows applications, in Microsoft parlance.

Industry watchers have been speculating on which Microsoft technologies the company is likely to release next under either its Shared Source licensing mechanism or via a true open-source license, such as the CPL (Common Public License). Last year, the company released its WiX (Windows Installer), Windows template library components and its FlexWiki source code under the CPL.

Burke said in an open note to developers on his blog, "I want to deliver Windows Forms source code to you. Ive wanted to do it for years and Im putting together a plan to make it happen."

Burke acknowledged that there are a few potential stumbling blocks that could interfere with making the WinForms source more widely available.

First is the issue of intellectual property. But Burke dismissed this concern in his blog posting, claiming that he is "comfortable with whats in Windows Forms." He added, "And lets be honest here, there have been tools around for years that basically are exposing this anyway."

Burke also raised the issue of cost, noting that the developer division team is consumed by getting the Visual Studio 2005 product out the door. And releasing code under a program like Shared Source requires quite a bit of management and maintenance.

"So I have to make this happen on the cheap," Burke said.

Thirdly, the WinForms source—like all Microsoft source code—is loaded with comments that developers wrote into the product when creating it. And code comments typically include lots of four-letter words, politically incorrect references and disparaging comments about competitors, if not customers.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead the full story on Microsoft Watch: Microsoft Considers Opening Up Access to Windows Forms