OpenOffice developers clear Visual Studio licensing hurdle

OpenOffice developers clear Visual Studio licensing hurdle

Summary: Update: A project to create a Swahili version of has found that Microsoft's licensing structure can hamper open source development

Developers will be able to make a Swahili version of (OOo) available on the Microsoft Windows platform, after having a licensed copy of Microsoft Visual Studio donated to them.

The final version of Jambo -- a Swahili version of the open source productivity suite -- is due to be released at the end of February, according to Alberto Escudero-Pascual, the project's technical coordinator.

Escudero-Pascual said on Friday that the cost of Microsoft Visual Studio was too much for the Tanzania-based project as a single copy of Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2002 would have cost "thousands of dollars", which is more than the average Tanzanian earns in a year.

Visual Studio .NET 2003 is available in various editions including a Professional Edition that costs $799, an Enterprise Developer edition that costs $1,799, and an Enterprise Architect edition that costs $2,499. The cost of these editions may vary according to the reseller, according to the Microsoft Web site.

Visual Studio is Microsoft's integrated development environment, and contains tools for editing, debugging, compiling and linking code.

The Jambo project was only able to produce a version of OOo for Windows after a Spanish software company footed the bill. The project team released a test version of Jambo OOo on Linux last year.

Although Microsoft provides a free compiler for the Windows platform, the Visual C++ Toolkit, this toolkit does not contain a debugger or optimiser which means that it is less suitable for compiling OOo for the Windows platform than Visual Studio.

There are various free development environments available for Linux, including KDevelop, which has various features including debugging and version control facilities.

Escudero-Pascual said that as the OOo source code is about 300MB in size, a debug environment is "mandatory".

Michael Meeks, a UK-based OOo developer, said he uses Visual Studio to compile the code, as the free compilers do not contain an optimiser.

"We are doing work to make it compile with free compilers, but the optimiser is not there so the code is slower and larger," said Meeks. "You need one copy of Visual Studio otherwise you end up with an un-optimised mess."

Mark Quirk, the head of technology at the Microsoft developer and platform group, said on Tuesday that a debugger is available free of charge with the Platform Software Developer Kit (SDK) and that an optimising compiler was added to the free Visual C++ Toolkit 18 months ago.

The advantage of Visual Studio over the free toolkits is that the product improves productivity as the compiler, debugger and development environment are integrated, according to Quirk.

According to the Microsoft Web site, developers may wish to upgrade to Visual Studio as it "includes many additional tools and features for C++ developers, including a professional debugger and code editor."

Topic: Apps

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  • Ingrid's back! For 10 points, who can tell me what this has to do with Visual Studio licensing? Or Microsoft's licensing structure?

    Wait, what's that I see- could it be that this story has an anti-Linux angle? That open-source optimizing compilers aren't available for Windows? Actually, that's not true either.

    So given the choice of (1) Linux advocacy, (2) non-investigative 'journalism' which actually paints Linux in a negative light, or (3)specious anti-Microsoft rhetoric, Ingrid picks all three!

    The National Enquirer has more integrity.
  • Errr... how is this article "anti-Linux"? In fact, if anything, it's "anti-Microsoft"... and weirdly so at that.

    The complaint seems to be "Microsoft bad because it doesn't give away free compilers with debugging and optimising tools to people in poorer countries trying to make products that compete with their products while the good hearted open source and Linux people do..."

    Even the title of the article is misleading - while it is technically correct to refer to 'not having enough money to buy a copy of VS' as 'a problem with Microsoft's VS licensing schemes' (since the reason they have a licensing scheme is to charge money for using their products), it implies something more sinister - that somehow there's something in the way that Microsoft licenses their software that specifically targets open source... which from what's written here, isn't the case.

    The fact that open sourcers may be poor and can't afford a copy of VS, while unfortunate, is hardly Microsoft's fault.
  • While the title is poorly chosen and sensationalist, the writer does have a point. This facet of the point will evapourate when KDevelop finishes going native as part of the KDE on Win32 project (

    Since this is Microsoft's own environment one would expect their build tools to be better there, but an important part of FOSS evangelism is showing how good our apps are "in their own home".

    If a user can be shifted to 100% FOSS apps in an environment they're comfortable with, then switching environments (to Linux or FreeBSD, say) is almost painless. Use a familiar-looking theme like Plastik and you're away.
  • So why do so many people use .Net? They must be like sheep. This is really expensive - even in comparison with a developer's salary in the UK. You can't surely claim that any productivity advantages over something like Eclipse and Java outweigh that amount of spending per developer.

    Java is far more mature than Dot-Net. It's been around longer and that shows in the language. Eclipse is incredibly productive - and it's free! Java runtimes and server environment are available for free and it doesn't lock you into a platform.

    Afraid of running on a free server? You shouldn't be. Most of the web runs on Apache, and that's despite Microsoft now bundling IIS with Windows Server. If you want though, you can buy a fully supported production environment from a choice of vendors.

    I just can't understand why people are paying for Dot-Net. Especially as it seems the main argument for it is familiarity for VB programmers, which isn't there either as Dot-Net uses a very different programming model to old VB.