Microsoft to turn .Net Micro Framework code, support over to the community

Microsoft to turn .Net Micro Framework code, support over to the community

Summary: Microsoft is turning the source code for its embedded .Net Micro Framework over to the community and slowly withdrawing from that business, company officials are confirming.


Microsoft is turning the source code for its embedded .Net Micro Framework over to the community and slowly withdrawing from that business, company officials are confirming.

(Update on May 7: Microsoft disagrees with my characterization of this move as "withdrawing from the business." But I'm standing by what I said, while making it clear company officials didn't say they are withdrawing. To me, if you cut a bunch of a team and turn your source code over to external parties, you are not signaling that you're continuing to stand firmly behind a product.

A spokesperson sent me this additional statement today: "The team views the new business model as an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of the .NET Micro Framework technology. Microsoft's objective is to create a uniform programming model and tool chain that spans software development from very small devices to the most sophisticated servers.")

On the rumored list of teams most heavily impacted by second wave of Microsoft layoffs announced on May 5 was the .Net Micro Framework team -- as well as the related MSN Direct unit. Indeed, both groups were affected, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed on May 6.

The .Net Micro Framework is one of a number of embedded platforms Microsoft has licensed to third parties and made available to teams inside the company. Others include Windows CE and Windows XPe. The .Net Micro Framework was at the heart of the Microsoft SPOT watches, some newfangled coffee makers and other consumer devices. (MSN Direct, a wireless information service, provided real-time updates to those watches, and, more recently GPS systems and Windows Mobile devices.) The .Net Micro Framework was aimed primarily at very small, low-power devices that couldn't accommodate the .Net Compact Framework or another operating environment.

Here's what's happening with the .Net Micro Framework, post yesterday's layoff announcement, according to a company spokesperson:

"On the .NET Micro Framework, there will be changes to the business model. 1) Microsoft will eliminate the royalties from the distribution of the .NET Micro Framework product and make the porting kit available at no cost. 2) Microsoft also intends to give customers and the community access to the source code.

"They will continue to support existing customers according to any agreements that they have in place with them, and will honor their lifecycle support pledge at Forums continue to be available at MSDN. After moving to the community model, new customers will be supported by the community.

"As part of this change in business model, some members of the team were impacted by yesterday's job eliminations. The existing group will move to the .NET Framework team.

"While the MSN Direct group was impacted by yesterday's job eliminations, they will continue to maintain the current MSN Direct service and invest in developing a low cost receiver for multiple devices. Customers will continue to receive support as it is available today."

An interesting side note, re: the .Net Micro Framework. Among the list of processors supported by that platform are the very low power ARM7 and ARM9. There have been questions lately as to when and whether -- and how -- Microsoft is planning to support the ARM processor family, given that ARM chips are showing up in some netbooks. Microsoft has declined to comment on its Windows ARM-support plans.

Topics: Microsoft, CXO, Enterprise Software, Software, Software Development


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • YES! YES!!!! This is awesome!

    This means they now have a serious answer for things like Arduino solutions that rely on a things like PureData.

    .Net Micro was the obvious choice - but since it was licensed, it wasn't really usable for things like hobbyists or free devices.
    • Please help us stifle I.T. for free.

      We want you all to work very hard on this "community" project so that we can lock in as many as possible and then show off and tell lies and control the media with the money you helped us to make.

      By the way, we might mention your name in the credits list, I'll be editing it from my yacht.

      Thanks again.

      Microsoft : Your effort, our poisson.
      • The only lock in

        is a solution that works, and works well.
        Offer that on another platform and folks will use it.

        Funny how people like you talk about choice being good, until the best choice is MS.
        Then choice is just horrible.

      • Grasping at straws......

        No one is going to spend their TIME on writing free code for MS.

        People choose Open_Source for CHOICE not CHAINS.

        'Chains' we can believe sounds like our new 'Leader' who was elected by people wanting 'freebies'....
  • A developing pattern

    My guess: Steve is returning to their two monopoly profit
    products, slashing their wasted USD8 billion a year R&D
    (why research when you can't develop?) so he can improve
    the MS bottom line before departing.

    For the MS's big wigs it is all how they're remembered.
    Like the little man that created nothing (copied plenty),
    abused million of consumers then forms a foundation (how very

    No better time for competitors (Google, Oracle) to target
    margins on MS profitable products (windows and Office) - with
    OOo and WINE.

    IT is escaping the dark ages into a period of
    enlightenment. For those of us that remember IT before
    the evil descended it is a great time. Wouldn't want to be a MSCE
    Richard Flude
    • Speaking of "developing patterns"

      I've noticed you tend to use a lot of words to say pretty much nothing at all.

      How do you do that? is it practiced, or does it just come natually?

      John Zern
      • Can't expect us all to match your contributions

        John Zern writes (02/01/07):
        "Steve Jobs must be a little nervous
        wasn't it not too long ago he was laughing as Zune had 2 percent of the
        market? In December it's up to 10.2 percent."

        Nice work;-)
        Richard Flude
    • "(why research when you can't develop?)"

      Excellent, thanks for that!
  • Whoa

    That porting kit's price earlier was $599.95!!
  • signs to come?

    I don't think this is about a more open M$ but rather a more greedy M$ that could not milk this cow.
    Linux Geek
  • Doesn't matter for developers

    .NET Micro is an extremely niche product that seems to be intended for devices with under 1MB of memory. It's not to be confused with .NET Compact (used in Windows Mobile) or regular .NET.

    It would only be interesting if it lead to opening up the big brother implementations. But there's no hint of that. This sounds more like abandon-and-dump.
    Ed Burnette
  • .Net wannabe Java

    .Net try hard to be Java.
    Java does it since his birth.

    Of course, a lot of people don't realize it yet.
    Other never will.

  • RE: Microsoft to turn .Net Micro Framework code, support over to the community

    Hmmm... seems like an awful lot of Microsoft haters here. Let me give another perspective. Also seems like a lot of people have no idea what .NET MF was all about. For embedded system developers that don't have the memory or power budget to run Windows Mobile (or embedded Linux) .NET MF is a God send. Modern development language, the best development tools on the planet, and cross platform execution are awsome.

    That said, I think this whole thing sucks. I don't want community support for .NET MF. I paid for a license to the porting kit and I have a license to distribute and I don't want this whole product muddied up by a bunch of graduate students and social rejects who can't code worth a damn.

    My hope is that Colin's statement is actually true and this reporter is just another sniping moron that won't be held accountable for being 100% wrong.

    By the way, I should probably say that I am a pro-Microsoft, pro-Capitalism, pro-Freedom guy who believes that capitalism makes the world go around. (oh-yeah, I forgot Gun-toting and Conservative Christian (which should have been first, I agree) ).

    Flame on.
  • RE: Microsoft to turn .Net Micro Framework code, support over to the community

    BTW, I was recently informed by Microsoft that they have .Net Micro Framework 4.0 in Beta and will be released shortly. This seems strange for a company "exiting the business," don't you think?
  • RE: Microsoft to turn .Net Micro Framework code, support over to the community

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  • RE: Microsoft to turn .Net Micro Framework code, support over to the community

    let it die a slow and painful death.

    nobody needs code that comes out of redmond.