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Microsoft & Mono

Ethical issues in IT.
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Microsoft & Mono

Postby AlexCuse on Wed Jun 04, 2008 4:43 pm

I saw this mentioned on another site (here):

The other thing to be aware of: if you have run one of the Microsoft assemblies thru ILDASM or Reflector, you cannot contribute to some of the open-source projects (like Mono).


And it got me thinking about a lot of things, ethical and non-ethical alike.

The main thing that comes to mind is that this could prohibit a lot of developers from contributing to mono. It seems to me that Microsoft would (should?) want mono to succeed.

I know the fear at MS must be that if they opened up .net to other platforms, they would lose OS Sales. But is that really the case? I've always thought that people used .net because it was the best tool for windows development, not that they used windows to keep their development in .net. They'd probably take a decent sized hit in the server OS market, but even this I doubt would be all that large, especially as Windows Server has made great progress teh last few releases.

However if mono truly succeeds, it would give people looking to develop cross-platform software products a pretty good alternative to Java. I think some healthy competition could benefit both to be honest.

I also wonder whether what seems to be an active attempt on MS' part to prevent .net from becoming a cross-platform development framework could be detrimental to their long-term success, as the OS continues to be marginalized by web-based applications.

I'd like to know others' thoughts on this.
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Re: Microsoft & Mono

Postby damber on Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:02 am

The thing is, it's not just about the OS - it's about the "Microsoft World" - how many Microsoft products are developed to be truly cross platform ? Office on Mac ? Um... anything else ? Office is a big cash cow for MS anyway, so they are happy to sell it where they can make a good profit...

So, as an example - you are a .NET developer, you want to store data... you only run on windows due to .NET 3.5 not running on anything else, probably go with SQL Server right ? How about integrating with other systems? Well, your Database and App and Web Servers are all MS, managed by MS Admins - why not re-use that resource and experience? cool, a windows base tool.. well MS are more than happy to 'help' you use BizTalk. You can document things using Office, collaborate using Sharepoint, Email each other using Exchange, maybe even extend a little bit into the Dynamics suite..

The point is, that MS do a very good job of allowing users to simply exchange money for answers to their problems. People might knock MS, but they have a lot of 'very easy to buy'' products that work well together (well, mostly), so it takes the pain out of choice for the consumer.. they have one place to go, and a common way of doing things.. the microsoft way. Just like IE.. why do they need it? why do they care ? they don't get paid for it, and there are other browsers for windows... it's about control - the more they can get you doing things "the MS way" the more likely you will spend where it counts... after all, now you are a Microsoft Shop.... easy upgrade paths from Access, to SQL Server Express to full SQL Server and similar continually re-enforce that message as IT Pro's progress in their career.

Don't get me wrong, I think this a great achievement in some ways, as it makes computing simple (relatively) which is why it is often favoured by non-tech small-mid sized companies. If you forget the holy wars around MS and others etc, then the MS concept of creating easy to use, pre-bundled, integrated and ready to go products with minimal barrier to entry is very appealing and on the surface a great result for everyone. And they do make some good products too - not necessarily the best, but up there with the best in some cases.

Except, that's not the only point of view. Interoperability is a MUST in todays world. I mean, why doesn't everyone just use SAP ? Why would you need to 'integrate' anything else ? Luckily for MS they have enough of a product range that you can be 'all microsoft' and get away without the interoperability. Unfortunately for everyone else, this has to be worked around to co-exist with such a hostile party. Just look at OOXML.. we already had a pretty good interoperable document standard format , but MS wanted to use their own as the standard, which has been demonstrated on numerous occasions to be sub-par. Why do we need two standards ? If most other applications talk this other language, why not talk that language too if it's all about interoperability?.. Because MS wants to keep that divide so that 'floating voters' (e.g. people who aren't quite sure which vendor to go with etc) choose MS because 'it's easier' as it will work with their other MS products and no risk of incompatibility. It is a sad case of vendor lock-in.. they do it intentionally, and it's a little unfair for us to be too harsh about that.. after all, it is a business they run (not that I agree with that mind)

I really wish MS would make .NET fully open source and cross platform. I prefer programming in C# over java and other languages (I'm not sure why, I just do) - but require mono to make it work on my Linux Workstation and Servers (I only have windows on my work laptop and a number of VM's), but it's way behind the latest releases - especially ASP.NET. Of course, making it truly interoperable would require a lot more work from MS.. and for what gain? You could use it without paying MS anything for any product, as there is no lockin to their offerings.

In a way, what has made them so profitable, could also be their downfall.. the world is changing, and MS have already made steps toward the SaaS way of things, and will no doubt need to adjust their way of thinking to keep up with customer demands... If people continue to accept the "Microsoft Way" then there will be more problems down the line - what happened when IE had no competition? Nothing... at all. Exactly. What has happened to Office since 97 that was so earth shattering? exactly... (though I do personally quite like 2007) now they see quick and easy online office tools (e.g. http://www.zoho.com or google's apps) they decide they need to innovate (at last) and create a more web focused solution. Competition of "Quality" is good for consumers. Competition of "Profits" is very bad for the consumer... sadly, it is more often the latter.

Fingers crossed some day they will see the light and play nicely with others. I doubt it will be any day soon unless revenues seriously nose-dive, though.

Geez, I waffled on a bit there.. well, my excuse is it's late here and I need some sleep.. :zzz:
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Re: Microsoft & Mono

Postby SQLDenis on Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:59 pm

Okay let me chime in
1) business users want Excel! We spit out files in CSV format, they don't like that (it opens fine in Excel) Noooooo it has to be xls or else ???

2) It think the integration is somewhat unfair. Let's say you have Openoffice Spreadsheets, SalesForce, Oracle, Siebel and Linux boxes. How would you integrate this mess? I don't see it being any different than MS. BTW we use JitterBit to integrate with SalesForce

3) Online Excel is a joke for business users. Unless you have a todo list it just doesn't cut it. you travel with your laptop on the plane there is no connectivity now what? There is google gears of course to remedy that a little bit......
A lot of business users use Excel Pivot tables, macros, functions, charting and have a lot more than 256 rows

here are some limits
New worksheets are built with 100 rows and 20 columns (though you can add more). You can work with up to 100 spreadsheets in all, and each of these can have no more than 20 tabs, 50,000 cells, 10,000 rows, or 256 columns. If any worksheet exceeds one of these limits, the worksheet can’t be modified. One final limit worth mentioning: your .XLS and .CSV files cannot exceed 400KB each.


But I agree that MS weakness is also its strength (make it easy for 90% of the business cases to use our products) and hard for the other 10%
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Re: Microsoft & Mono

Postby damber on Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:22 pm

Denis wrote:2) It think the integration is somewhat unfair. Let's say you have Openoffice Spreadsheets, SalesForce, Oracle, Siebel and Linux boxes. How would you integrate this mess? I don't see it being any different than MS. BTW we use JitterBit to integrate with SalesForce


Not sure if you're agreeing with me there or not - I agree, MS works well "with it's own products". It is usually only interoperable with other products because THOSE products work around MS. OOXML is beyond a joke, OpenOffice has been able to open MS documents (albeit with slight limitations) for quite a while. How long as MS been able to open an ODF document? Natively it should arrive early 2009. How's that for interoperability, eh ?

Integrating with Salesforce is through web service API's, so this *is* interoperable - it is using an open standard for applications to integrate with - both for embedded apps and external ones.. But that's the point - if you choose the pre-integrated microsoft way (and it's not fully pre-integrated, just very friendly with itself ;-)), then you dont get the choice of Oracle or DB2 or MySQL without breaking out of that comfort zone (yes you can install all of those on windows, but they are not as well supported in, say, .NET etc)- I know you probably wouldn't care about that, being a SQL Server Menace :P .. but a lot do.

The point of the matter is that MS will not answer every question the world has to ask of software, and will not be "the best" at the majority of the ones it can either. So if you are a MS only shop, you lose out on a lot to gain that 'pre-integrated' capability, and the often 'dumbed down' tooling (which is a bad thing), which lends itself to the ease of use etc (which is a good thing). The idea is co-existence - and MS have trouble letting that happen for fear of losing it's control on it's user base and having to actually do some extra work. I think they'll get better in the coming years, but they are unlikely to ever really get there in the foreseeable future. we can live in hope though.
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Re: Microsoft & Mono

Postby SQLDenis on Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:43 pm

Not sure if you're agreeing with me there or not


Me neither :-)


There is no difference between using FoxPro (a MS product) or Oracle or MySQL from lets say SQL Server

you have to install a driver in order to connect to it

MySQL Connector/Net
http://lists.mysql.com/dotnet/1276

Oracle Data Provider for .NET
http://www.oracle.com/technology/tech/w ... index.html

How do you connect from Java to a DB? You need a type 4 driver for the product, for MySQL you would need Connector/J

How long as MS been able to open an ODF document?

Because there are a lot more people opening .DOCs in Open Office than ODF in MS Office


Integrating with Salesforce is through web service API's, so this *is* interoperable -

True, but you need to chunk in batches of 200




The one thing that pisses me off about MS is that they cannot just use what is already out there. for example
Nant --> MSBuild
NHibernate--> Entity Framework (not 100% but you get the point)
CruiseControl --> Team System

etc etc etc

I guess this is a licensing issue and that is why they need to have their own versions
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Re: Microsoft & Mono

Postby chrissie1 on Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:48 pm

Actually MSBuild wa there before Nant. But Nant was more powerfull.
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Re: Microsoft & Mono

Postby SQLDenis on Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:57 pm

chrissie1 wrote:Actually MSBuild wa there before Nant. But Nant was more powerfull.



but not before Ant ;)
anyway I think the ALT.NET stuff is a step in the right direction, the fact that they hired Phil Haack and Scott Hanselman is also good. Finally they are coming out with ASP.NET MVC.....but why o why not just using MonoRail???
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Re: Microsoft & Mono

Postby AlexCuse on Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:06 am

In the same thread that got me started thinking about this, it was brought to my attention that it is actually the mono people who institute this rule (I had always thought that this was forced on them by microsoft). Reason being that while mono is "useful" to microsoft now, and they are somewhat supportive of it, if this was to change (and someone who'd examined .net's source code had worked on the project) mirrosoft could have grounds to sue mono out of existence.

This makes a bit more sense to me, I suppose. It's still beat, but at least it is a result of mono looking out for their best interests and not microsoft looking out for some twisted notion of theirs.
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