Jul 07

Microsoft is applying its Community Promise to the C# programming language and Common Language Infrastructure (CLI).  This means that anyone can freely build, sell, distribute or use programs with C# and the CLI without signing a license agreement or otherwise communicating to Microsoft.  This applies to all distribution models including open source and GPL.  Under the Community Promise, Microsoft will not assert its Necessary Claims.

In other words, build all you want with C# and .NET, Microsoft won’t sue you for copyright or patent infringement.

Specifically, this announcement applies to the ECMA 334 (C#) and ECMA 335 (CLI) specifications.

“The Community Promise is an excellent vehicle and, in this situation, ensures the best balance of interoperability and flexibility for developers,” said Scott Guthrie, Corporate Vice President for the .NET Developer Platform.

May 14

Dealing another significant blow to the Microsoft Silverlight web development platform, the New York Times is abandoning Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).  Rob Larson from the New York Times writes:

Next week we’ll be introducing Times Reader 2.0. This version is powered by Adobe AIR and will run equally well on Windows, Mac and Linux computers.  With this latest release, Times Reader resembles the printed paper even more closely, and it updates every five minutes with the latest news from the Web.

The timing is awkward to say the least, with Microsoft actively promoting its New York Times Silverlight Kit.  This toolkit enables developers to use the Times’ APIs with little or no coding, instead using mostly XAML.

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Apr 09

Major League Baseball handed Microsoft some very bad news by reverting back to the Adobe Flash player after just one year with Microsoft’s Silverlight browser plug-in.  This season, baseball fans will watch live and on-demand video at MLB.com via the Flash player.  MLB.com offers the Web’s most successful subscription service with over 500,000 subscribers.

The trouble started last November when Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) — the league’s technical group — announced it would discontinue using Silverlight after less than a year.  The decision has impact far beyond baseball, as MLBAM also handles CBS’ webcasts of the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the 2009 Masters golf tournament.

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Mar 28

PC Freeze

Microsoft announced plans to open its own chain of branded stores to catch up with rival Apple and its successful foray into retailing.  Microsoft did not reveal how many stores it planned to open, when they would open, or which products it would sell in the stores.

A little humor on the subject by Jimmy Fallon:

“Despite the recession, Microsoft is planning to open stores to compete with Apple.  The Microsoft stores will be just like the Apple stores, except the staff will freeze when you ask them any questions.”

Story at Reuters

Mar 12

Vault is a prototype programming language created at Microsoft Research.  It’s a safe version of the C programming language, with features to record and enforce usage rules associated with interfaces.  The rules control the order in which the interface’s functions may be called and its data accessed.

Download Vault

Mar 12

Even billionaires are getting slammed by the global economic crisis.  Forbes Magazine found only 793 billionaires for its annual list of the world’s richest people.  This represents a drop of 30 percent from last year and the first decline since 2003.

The total net worth of people on the magazine’s “Richest List” fell 46 percent to $2.4 trillion.  The average billionaire is now worth only $3 billion, 23 percent less than last year.

Despite losing $18 billion in wealth, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates regained the title of world’s richest man with a net worth of $40 billion.  Warren Buffett is #2 with $37 billion.

Mar 05

Microsoft patents the human body Microsoft received its 10,000th U.S. patent earlier this month.  This makes Microsoft one of the leading patent filers, though IBM still files the most patents and in 2008 became the first company to issue 4,000 patents in a single year.

“Logging the 10,000th patent really is a testament to all of the innovation that has been taking place,” said Microsoft chief patent counsel Bart Eppenauer.  Although Microsoft maintains its patents are mostly for defense, its huge patent portfolio hasn’t kept it out of the courtroom.  The number of patent lawsuits filed against Microsoft has actually increased significantly in the past few years.

“That increase has come almost entirely from entities that do not produce products,” Eppenauer said.  Most of the patent suits come from “patent trolls” whose primary business function is acquiring patents and suing for royalties.  In those cases, having a large patent collection is of little use since the patent troll has no products of its own for which it can be countersued.  But Microsoft’s patent portfolio has other uses such as licensing its technology to companies such as Novell or bullying Linux.

Microsoft’ has become so prolific filing patents that it dedicated a staff of 100 people including 40 attorneys that focus solely on the 2500-3000 U.S. patent applications the company files each year.

This news bodes poorly for independent software vendors, for whom it is nearly impossible to create original software without violating literally thousands of patents.

Story at CNET

Mar 03

Want insight into the design and development of C#?  Then check out these blogs by key members of the Microsoft C# development team:

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Jan 22

Software giant Microsoft announced Thursday it will cut 5,000 jobs over the next year and a half.  Microsoft will eliminate 1,400 positions immediately, with the rest cut by June 2010.  The company said it will save $1.5 billion in operating expenses and another $700 million in capital expenses.

Microsoft also posted lower fiscal second-quarter net income of $4.17 billion, down 11% from last year.  The company reported earnings of 47 cents per share, missing analyst estimates of 49 cents.

Microsoft said the job cuts and soft income is the result of “deterioration of global economic conditions.”

Nov 19

This is scary, folks.  If you use Microsoft Visual Studio to create web services, you could be subject to lawsuits for patent infringement.  Yes, simply using a software program puts your company and livelihood at legal risk, yet another sign of how terribly flawed is the U.S. software patent system.

Fortunately, Microsoft is coming to save the day.  Microsoft filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco last week to defend users of its Visual Studio development tools.  The lawsuit seeks to invalidate several patents that WebXchange is using to sue three large companies: Allstate Insurance, Dell computer and FedEx.

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