Microsoft is offering developers a view into its source code, but it doesn’t want anyone touching it.

According to Scott Guthrie, general manager of the .NET Framework in Microsoft’s Developer Division, the company will be releasing the reference source code for the .NET Framework under the made-in-Redmond Microsoft Reference License.

This is to give “developers the chance to understand more about the inner workings for the framework’s source code.”

Guthrie wrote in a blog post:

[Microsoft will] begin by offering the source code (with source file comments included) for the .Net Base Class Libraries (System, System.IO, System.Collections, System.Configuration, System.Threading, System.Net, System.Security, System.Runtime, System.Text, etc.), ADO.Net (System.Data), ASP.Net (System.Web), Windows Forms (System.Windows.Forms), and WPF (System.Windows).

We’ll then be adding more packages next year.”

Debugger integration for the .NET Framework libraries within Visual Studio 2008 will eventually be provided.

Open source advocates are critical of Microsoft’s “look but don’t touch” approach.

According to The Register:

The Ms-RL is not recognized by the Open Source Initiative (OSI), which approves open source licenses, and Microsoft has decided against submitting Ms-RL for official approval. Meanwhile, its companion license, the Microsoft Permissive License that was submitted to the OSI has been judged as flawed by that organization.

Get more information on the Microsoft Reference License.

What is your opinion of the Microsoft Reference License?


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