Over the last 7 months, we have shown the .NET Gadgeteer to a number of internal and external parties.  The response is almost always the same – where can I get one?  Microsoft has just taken a big step in getting an answer to that question.  We have just published the reference specifications and source code out on the CodePlex site - http://gadgeteer.codeplex.com/

.NET Gadgeteer (http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/Clint/NET-Gadgeteer) started life as an internal tool in Microsoft Research (MSR) for rapidly iterating on devices.  As an internal tool used in small numbers, it was not designed for cost efficiencies or mass production and it was closely tied to the hardware that it was originally implemented on.  In other words, it was not ‘product ready’.  In discussions on how to make this technology available outside of MSR we wanted a path that led to a vigorous community which is building different kinds of kits and modules for the broadest user community possible at the best prices.  We decided that the best path to that end is to open the reference platform and let anyone interested take the platform and produce as many variations of this original idea as possible – with the intent that all the modules will be seamlessly interchangeable on all the main boards.

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That is in fact what we have been working on over the last few months – reworking the socket definitions and libraries so that mainboard producers  can build on a wide range of processors (anything that can run the .NET Micro Framework) and that module producers can build modules that will work on any .NET Gadgeteer compatible mainboard.  We have also been working on the documentation for potential partners so that they can see what we are proposing.  All of this was released on the CodePlex site and is available for review by potential hardware partners. 

Now it’s time to engage anyone interested in bringing .NET Gadgeteer compatible devices to market.  We want to move as aggressively as possible on this so if you or anyone you know is potentially interested in building kits and modules, please contact us soon at gadgeteer@microsoft.com.  We intend to be very active in our support of potential hardware partners.

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Because it is not unheard of for corporations to put products out to pasture by Open Sourcing them, we need to be very clear that is not the case here.  There continues to be active work in support of moving this system forward technically, in promoting our partners in their efforts, in engaging with educators to see that curriculum at various levels is developed, and more.  We are developing a web site off of netmf.com (http://netmf.com/gadgeteer) where we will continue to actively support our partners and end users as we have with the .NET Micro Framework.  It actually isn’t at all hard to get people at Microsoft to even volunteer their spare time to work on this technology – it’s that cool. 

So, anyone potentially interested in helping bring .NET Gadgeteer kits and modules to market, let’s hear from you now.  Anyone interested in getting one of these kits – watch the web site for updates – hopefully coming very soon.