Visual Studio Express and TestDriven.NET

Dan Fernandez’s Blog : Visual Studio Express and TestDriven.NET: “”

“If the choice was between not ever having released Visual Studio Express (or not releasing it in the future) or having Visual Studio Express with an explicit limitation to block extensibility, which would you chose?”

I would choose to transfer the ignorant wonk who made those the ONLY choices to a new position. Their new job would be to go around campus, unroll the toilet paper in the restrooms, and roll it back on the tube the opposite direction. Because I can’t think of a job that would better suit a person that useless.

Everyone involved in the discussion seems to agree that Microsoft has the legal right to enforce their EULA and that Cansdale shouldn’t have violated the “technical limitation” clause. But no one seems to be debating whether or not MS should HAVE THE LIMITATION IN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE..

So the question is. Why is that limitation in the EULA in the first place. Dan F. almost addresses the issue, but flubs it up:

The Express Customer
The vast majority of our customer base, now with 14 million downloads, isn’t even professional developers, its non-professionals. In fact over 80% of Express registrants don’t describe themselves as a “developer”. From a total number perspective, beginners are the largest segment of Express customers and they still find Express too complex, it has too many features, and they see development as a means to an end (I just want to create my kids soccer league Web site). Our Express customers haven’t been asked for unit testing or extensiblity in much the same way as I didn’t ask or even know to ask when I grew up programming BASIC on an Apple IIe. Heck even professional developers with years of programming experience can’t program FizzBuzz.

Well then, those people don’t HAVE to install TestDriven.NET. But some might want to after they’ve mastered FizzBuzz. Those people aren’t going to go around installing. Let’s say that instead of TestDrive.NET, it’s an add on that helps you import your Hotmail address book into a database for your soccer website? In fact, what would happen if you built a community around small add-ons to the Express SKU’s. Let people create their own using Express and then share them with other Express users? That would be great for the Express customers right?

But I guess that wouldn’t be the Microsoft way. Microsoft appears to be moving more towards the Verizon attitude. Hate your customers as much as you hate yourself. Which is why Mike Gunderloy won’t be an exception for much longer.

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  • Jonathan Allen

    > I would choose to transfer the ignorant wonk who made those the ONLY choices to a new position.

    That wasn’t an option for Dan. From all appearances, he worked his ass off to convience Microsoft that VS Express should be free. It wasn’t like he could just wave his hands and instantly become king of the world.

    Futhermore, is it really fair to expect Microsoft to give away a version of Visual Studio that competes directly with their own revenue stream?

  • yes, those poor souls at MS with their lagging sales. How ever will they make it up if they allow someone to run an add-in in the Express products. Maybe a bake sale? MS Muffins anyone? 😉

    I keed I keed.

    It’s not fair Jonathan, it’s good business. Eclipse is free, XCode is free and comes bundled on OS X install DVDs. In todays market, if MS wants to continue to attract developers, they need to grab them quickly and grab them fast. The Express line of products is their way of doing that.

  • Jonathan Allen

    > It’s not fair Jonathan, it’s good business.

    That is just a cop-out. No one but Microsoft has the right to decide if one of their products should be free or not.

    I offer a quote from Scott Adams

    > Yes, yes, I can see how an unknown band might become popular by making its music available for free. That makes perfect sense. Luckily, every artist has that option. But as my experience with God’s Debris shows, every situation is unique. If the artist loses his right to decide when, and if, his creation is available to the world for free, he loses something of potential value, even in the unlikely event that the loss leads to more sales in the long run. I can’t steal a jacket from JC Penney and hope they understand that it’s good publicity, thus causing several people to buy the same jacket. It isn’t my right to make that decision, even if I happen to be correct.

    Moving on, how do you think Jamie would feel if we started giving away free copies of the pro version of TestDriven.NET? (Which, by the way, costs from $95 to $10,500 and is just a wrapper for other people’s test frameworks.)

    The fact that Microsoft is large enough to absorb the finanical impact doesn’t make it right.

    > Eclipse is free, XCode is free and comes bundled on OS X install DVDs.

    So go use them! Just because one company decides it is in their best interest to give something away doesn’t mean every other company with a similiar product should have to do the same.

    > How ever will they make it up if they allow someone to run an add-in in the Express products.

    They will make it up by no longer giving away Express for free. The deal MS made with the community was that in exchange for dropping the price of Express from ~100 to 0, professional developers would agree to buy the full version if they want add-ons.

  • Jonathan Allen

    Here is a letter that Jamie forwarded to me. Make of it what you will.

    Jamie,

    I would much prefer that we reached an amicable solution, but I don’t
    feel that we’re trending in that direction. I had already replied to
    this email. To ensure that we’re on the same page let me explicitly
    answer your requests:

    1.) We will not allow you to redistribute VSTS unit testing components
    with your product for use in Standard/Pro SKU’s.

    2.) We will not allow you to redistribute Visual Studio below Select B
    pricing (our standard pricing model).

    3.) We are not offering you a free VSIP Premier, Open Tools and/or IDE
    redistribution partnership.

    4.) We will not allow you to extend the Visual Studio Express SKU’s
    under any conditions.

    5.) You will not be accepted into the VSIP program until you conform to
    our license agreements.

    To be clear Microsoft is not going to compensate you for discontinuing
    your Express extensions. We are willing to work with you through the
    VSIP program once you are in conformance with our license terms. That
    said we are willing to entertain any other suggestions you might have.

    Thanks – jason

  • Jonathan,

    You seem to be arguing from the position that Jamie is in the wrong. I agree. He shouldn’t violate the EULA and he should have made the changes requested by Microsoft before it got to the point where lawyers were needed. That’s not my point. My point is that the EULA should be changed. I have no doubt that some inside of Microsoft tried.

    i’ve lobbied in posts here and on other blogs for a free version of Visual Studio to lower the entry bar for new programmers and students. I think the Express line is a good start, but I also think that ultimately Microsofts true cash cows are the OS division and the Office division. In other words, the Windows platform itself. The development tools should be free to better promote the platform.

    “So go use them! Just because one company decides it is in their best interest to give something away doesn’t mean every other company with a similiar product should have to do the same.”

    If you just sit against the wall at the school dance and wait for the girls to ask you to dance because you are the most popular boy in school, you won’t dance with as many as when you go ask them to dance. Microsoft is sitting against the wall if they don’t give their tools away.

    “The deal MS made with the community was that in exchange for dropping the price of Express from ~100 to 0, professional developers would agree to buy the full version if they want add-ons.”

    And that’s a bad deal. I doubt many of the Express users feel that way. My guess is the reaction is more like, “What? I can’t install this new add-on unless I pay MS $700?”

  • Jonathan Allen

    > My guess is the reaction is more like, “What? I can’t install this new add-on unless I pay MS $700?”

    If that were really the case I might agree with you. But VS Standard costs only about $250. And if you are a student, the price drops to only $50.

  • Robert Ho

    Jonathan,

    Without this clause how would Microsoft protect against things like working around (aka hacking) product activation? On another blog I see this was the clause MS used to fight Vista piracy and viruses.

    Also, per the email Jamie forwarded you above with MS what I keep getting stuck on is that Jamie expected MS to give him things like permission to ‘redistribute Visual Studio below Select B
    pricing’ and ‘free VSIP Premier, Open Tools and/or IDE redistribution partnership’. He’s asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of compensation from MS in exchange for removing his Express add-in. In america we call that blackmail and we send our corporate suites to prision for comperable behaviors.

    I find it ironic that if MS gave away their tools for free then Jamie wouldn’t be able to blackmail nor would he have a business since MS’s unit test frameworks and runners would be free.

  • Robert Ho

    Jonathan,

    Without this clause how would Microsoft protect against things like working around (aka hacking) product activation? On another blog I see this was the clause MS used to fight Vista piracy and viruses.

    Also, per the email Jamie forwarded you above with MS what I keep getting stuck on is that Jamie expected MS to give him things like permission to ‘redistribute Visual Studio below Select B
    pricing’ and ‘free VSIP Premier, Open Tools and/or IDE redistribution partnership’. He’s asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of compensation from MS in exchange for removing his Express add-in. In america we call that blackmail and we send our corporate suites to prision for comperable behaviors.

    I find it ironic that if MS gave away their tools for free then Jamie wouldn’t be able to blackmail nor would he have a business since MS’s unit test frameworks and runners would be free.

    — Robert