Microsoft to release .NET Micro Framework code

The technology, aimed at portable devices such as wristwatches, will get a new business model following a round of layoffs that affected its developer team
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Microsoft is to provide users and developers access to the .NET Micro Framework source code, following a round of layoffs that affected the technology's developer team.

The company confirmed on Thursday that a 5 May round of layoffs had affected the .NET Micro Framework team and that the effort would be folded into the .NET Framework team.

.NET Micro Framework is designed for small or low-power devices, such as watches or coffee machines, that would not be capable of supporting the full .NET Framework or .NET Compact Framework.

Following the layoffs, Microsoft said it was planning to change the business model for the .NET Micro Framework. This includes putting development and support more into the hands of the developer community, although it has yet to specify the details of this plan.

"We are planning on involving the community in the future definition and development of the product by allowing access to the source code of the runtime and object model, as well as the drivers," said .NET Micro Framework developer manager Lorenzo Tessiore in a blog post on Thursday.

The licence involved will not necessarily meet the definition of open source, according to Tessiore.

"We are currently in the process of framing the rules of engagement, and we hope to be able to offer both a process for a regulated development effort and a broad license, so that it will be possible to take advantage of the code base without necessarily contributing to the community," he wrote.

Licences that meet the open-source definition in general require those making modifications to the code to contribute those modifications back to the community.

Microsoft said in a statement that it will eliminate royalties from the distribution of the .NET Micro Framework and make the porting kit available at no cost.

Existing customers will continue to be supported, and forums will continue to be available at the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) site. After the move to the new model, new customers will be supported by the community, Microsoft said.

The MSN Direct team was also affected by last week's layoffs, but will continue to provide its service to devices based on the .NET Micro Framework, according to Microsoft. MSN Direct is an FM radio-based digital service providing information such as traffic notifications and weather forecasts to .NET Micro Framework-based devices.

Microsoft said that it remains committed to the portable device market represented by .NET Micro Framework.

"The team views the new business model as an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of the .NET Micro Framework technology," the company said in a statement. "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."

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