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 PostPost subject: Microsoft threatens one of its Most Valuable Professionals.        Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:47 pm 
Jamie Cansdale developed an add-on for Microsoft Visual Studio.
TestDriven.NET allows
unit test suites to be run directly from within the Microsoft IDE. Cansdale
gave away this gadget on his website, and initially received the praises
of Microsoft.

In fact, Microsoft was so pleased with him, it gave him a [url=http://mvp.support.microsoft.com/gp/mvpawardintro]Most Valuable
Professionals (MVP) award,[/url] which it says it gives to
"exceptional technical community leaders from around the world who
voluntarily share their high quality, real world expertise with others".

However, his cherished status did not last. In December 2005, he started
getting emails from a Microsoft executive called Jason Weber.
The problem was that TestDriven.NET supported the Express edition of
Visual Studio. Express is the cut-down version that anyone can download
for free from the Microsoft website. It is limited in various ways, and is
intended only for hobbyists and students. Everyone else is supposed to
shell out for the paid-for versions.

In fact, as a .NET hobbyist himself, Cansdale says he used Express to
develop TestDriven.NET. Ironically, he only got access to a fancier
version of Visual Studio as part of his MVP goody-bag.

But MS doesn't want you supporting Visual Studio Express with your add-ons.

Weber wrote to Cansdale that he had violated Express licence
agreements: that he was accessing APIs not available to those who only
had the Express version of Visual Studio, or that he had reverse
engineered APIs - also forbidden.

Cansdale said from the off - and has stuck by this - that he only used
APIs in the public domain, published on Microsoft's MSDN website for all
to see. He invited Weber to be specific about the API/licence term that
was violated.

Weber blanked him, and then began an exchange of increasingly
acrimonious correspondence, which can be read on Cansdale's website
here and here.

In the long sequence of emails that followed, Weber treated Cansdale
with immense condescension:

"Craig Symonds is a busy Microsoft executive. We're fortunate that we
could get 30 minutes with him for a conference call"; consistently
evasive when asked to identify the specific legal problem, meanwhile
trying to bully Cansdale to withdraw Visual Studio Express support and
remove his "hack".

Cansdale took legal advice, and bravely dug in his heels.

At one point, in a splendid example of the right hand being unaware of
who is getting the left hand's index finger, Cansdale got a letter
presaging another MVP award only to have it hastily withdrawn the next
day (find this incident the bottom of the second page of emails.)

Finally, Microsoft lost patience, and in the last few days has hit Cansdale
with a flurry of lawyers' letters, also available on his website :see here
and here. Cansdale now has until 4pm Wednesday 6 June to disable the
Visual Studio Express features of his product.

We await the deadline with bated breath.

Meanwhile, a quiet word in the ear of any earnest young programmer
who is considering downloading a copy of Visual Studio Express and
slaving deep into the night, striving hard in the Microsofty ways, in the
hope one day of earning the glorious rank of MVP.

Admin edit: Moved to News and corrected title typo.


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