Big number of articles about the civil law suit between Oracle and Google over Google’s use of Java.  What about Microsoft products, what does Microsoft promise to the open source community?

What is Microsoft’s promise to the open source community?

Microsoft Community Promise

Microsoft irrevocably promises not to assert any Microsoft Necessary Claims against you for making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or distributing any implementation, to the extent it conforms to one of the Covered Specifications, and is compliant with all of the required parts of the mandatory provisions of that specification ("Covered Implementation"), subject to the following:

This is a personal promise directly from Microsoft to you, and you acknowledge as a condition of benefiting from it that no Microsoft rights are received from suppliers, distributors, or otherwise in connection with this promise. If you file, maintain, or voluntarily participate in a patent infringement lawsuit against a Microsoft implementation of any Covered Specification, then this personal promise does not apply with respect to any Covered Implementation made or used by you. To clarify, "Microsoft Necessary Claims" are those claims of Microsoft-owned or Microsoft-controlled patents that are necessary to implement the required portions (which also include the required elements of optional portions) of the Covered Specification that are described in detail and not those merely referenced in the Covered Specification.

This promise by Microsoft is not an assurance that either (i) any of Microsoft issued patent claims covers a Covered Implementation or are enforceable, or (ii) a Covered Implementation would not infringe patents or other intellectual property rights of any third party. No other rights except those expressly stated in this promise shall be deemed granted, waived or received by implication, exhaustion, estoppel, or otherwise.

For the complete promise see: http://www.microsoft.com/openspecifications/en/us/programs/community-promise/default.aspx

If you are a hardcore programmer, what are the languages of concern?

Two of the items that you might be concerned that are included in this promise (links validated on 5/9/2012):

    1. C# Language Specification - Ecma-334, 4th Edition or ISO/IEC 23270:2006
    2. C++ AMP: Language and Programming Model, Version 0.9

To check out the court filing directly, you can use the case number: 3:10-cv-03561-WHA , in your search engine of choice and take a look the various documents, I haven’t, but if you are a small company owner, take a look at the documents.  Then tell me that you shouldn’t have a lawyer on tap.  But bottom line the Java source code and use has always been a contention for the community. 

In conclusion take away a few things from that this article:

    1. If you are a small company and don’t have a lawyer that you trust, think about getting one
    2. Microsoft has made an important promise to the community with respect to C++ and C#, please take a look at the promise I referenced
    3. If you can figure out how to put together all of the legal documents around the Oracle versus Google case, take a look at them.  Do not  draw any business related decisions without meeting with an attorney, I am not a lawyer, and unless you have passed the State Bar Exam neither are you.  However, reading them might help you understand the various articles being written.