Microsoft has announced that the framework that grew from its Smart Personal Objects Technology project is to be made available under an open-source licence, completely free of charge.
The .NET Micro Framework is the result of Microsoft's efforts to create Internet-connected 'smart' devices - most famously its 'SPOT' range of smart watches, which connect to a US-wide data network in order to receive information such as weather updates. While the technology didn't take off quite as readily as the company had hoped - indeed, the data network powering SPOT is due to be turned off in 2012 - it still holds promise.
While Microsoft isn't willing to bankroll further development, it isn't allowing the project to die either: fulfilling a promise it made back in May to turn the technology over to the community and remembered by The Register
, the company is licensing the .NET Micro Framework under the Apache 2.0 open-source licence - allowing third parties to utilise and further develop the technology as they see fit, free from licensing restrictions and royalties.
In a posting to the company's open-source Port 25
site, project manager Colin Miller warns that not everything will be made available: the TCP/IP stack is licensed from a third party and thus Microsoft have no rights to redistribute the source code, and the cryptographic libraries are used elsewhere - but, Miller assures developers, can be easily replaced with existing open-source libraries.
While the project might be handed to the community, Microsoft will continue to take an active role in its development: according to Miller, the company is looking to establish "a core technology team that is made up of both Microsoft and non-Microsoft contributors that continues the goals of producing a high quality product for very small devices.
Do you believe that Microsoft is doing the right thing by open-sourcing the SPOT project, or has the time for Internet-connected watches already passed? Is the developer in you excited by the possibilities opened up by the .NET Micro Framework? Share your thoughts over in the forums