June 6, 2007

Show Me The EULA

After reading about the TestDriven.NET controversy this morning, I opened up my recently installed copy of Visual C# 2005 Express Edition and read through the EULA again to see if I could see a place in the EULA where we agree not to extend the Express Edition.

I couldn't find it. Can you?

I haven't had a chance to check the EULA in the Visual Studio 2005 SDK itself...could it be in there?

Update: It looks like it's section 9 of the EULA.
You may not
• work around any technical limitations in the software;
Now, I understand where Microsoft is coming from. The Express SKU is a freebie, and is intended to help create a new pool of developers who will hopefully purchase their full products. But they made many blunders leading up to this...

1. They didn't compile out the functionality for Express to consume add-ins. Obviously, they did that so that they could create Express add-ins themselves, but still...

2. They restricted unit testing to their highest-level SKU's. Given the emphasis that most developers are placing on unit testing nowadays (myself included), it would make more sense to breed a unit-testing mentality into developers from the beginning. Even Benjamin Nitchke's "Professional XNA Game Programming" preaches the importance of unit testing from almost chapter 1.

3. They kept requesting that their legal demands be kept secret while at the same time being vague until the last minue about which clauses were being violated. If I have an agreement with you that you are violating, and I call you on the violation, you have every right to ask me what part of the agreement I'm violating. You even have the right to ask others for legal advice as to whether or not what you are doing is truly a violation. Unless the initial agreement itself is sealed with secrecy clauses (which the Express EULA is not), you even have the right to go public.

4. The law may not be on their side. There have been numerous documented attempts to stop people from reenabling features of hardware that had been crippled (such as Bluetooth in cellphones, enhanced features in digital cameras and even extra features on CPU's), but to date not a single effort at suppression has been successful that I'm aware of in the United Kingdom. If the reintroduction of a removed wire trace on the underside of a processor isn't seen under British law as a "technical limitation," why would the reintroduction of a registry key be seen any differently, especially in a country where corrolaries between hardware and software seem to be drawn regularly in software-related court cases?

Regardless of the outcome, this is fascinating to watch. If you want to keep up to date, here's Jamie's blog.

1 comment:

Zman said...

Hmmm, "The Register"... what a great unbiased source for your news :-)

Sadly at the end of the day it doesn't matter who is right or wrong here. If people can extend VS Express then within a few months there will be so many add-ons that nobody will buy VS Pro and that means MS only have one choice - to charge for or remove VS Express.