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Microsoft Launches First Shared Source Contest 170

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has launched its first-ever shared source programming contest. With several XBox 360's and an HDTV on the line, hackers will download 120-day trial versions of Windows CE and associated tools, and create 'cool, real-world' apps using designated shared source components. Judging criteria include originality, real-world practicality, feature-extension of the Shared Source components, project documentation, and a short video that demonstrates the successful operation of the project. The Grand Prize is a complete Xbox 360 dream setup consisting of the Xbox 360 console, a 34-inch HDTV, games, and accessories. Three other winners will be awarded Xbox 360 game consoles."
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Microsoft Launches First Shared Source Contest

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  • in other words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rooked_One ( 591287 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:40AM (#15392315) Journal
    work for us without working for us
    • Re:in other words (Score:4, Insightful)

      by HillBilly ( 120575 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:44AM (#15392323)
      Other companies such as Google have done the same.
    • Re:in other words (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bacon Bits ( 926911 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @04:26AM (#15392445)
      What do you think SourceForge is?

      Complaining that developers don't get paid for MS's shared source software while many FOSS developers also develop for no pay is obtuse.

      • Re:in other words (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ookaze ( 227977 )
        What do you think SourceForge is?

        And you ?
        For sure, SourceForge is NOT a place where the dev tools stop working 120 days after you started coding.

        Complaining that developers don't get paid for MS's shared source software while many FOSS developers also develop for no pay is obtuse

        But complaining that developers can't even keep the dev environment unless they pay the company making the contest is not obtuse at all.
    • Re:in other words (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @04:48AM (#15392507)
      "work for us without working for us"

      If one were to have irrational biases, one could colorfully describe Open Source that way.

      Oversimplifying everything always sucks.
      • Not the GPL. The cost of the GPL is too high to bear for most corporations and MS won't touch anything that has the stink of GPL on it with a ten foot pole.
        • But plenty of companies do make money off of GPLed code. Using the same logic as the OP, anyone who's contributed to that code is essentially working for those companies for free.
          • Yes "plenty" do but "most" don't. Having said that the GPL prevents the "plenty" from making their extentions proprietary so the coder gets all the enhancements back.
      • Re:in other words (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jkrise ( 535370 )
        If one were to have irrational biases, one could colorfully describe Open Source that way.

        Not true. The MS model, as the OP pointed out is like:

        "Work for us without working for us"

        Open Source projects are more like:

        "It works for you, it works for us, it works for everyone else!"
        • There is something else about Microsoft's let's-pretend-to-be-like-them-and-divert-public-o p inion strategy that worries me.

          We have "Open Source", and then Microsoft comes out with "Shared Source". "Hey, let's fool people into thinking that we're just like the good guys!" says Microsoft. The average Joe is not going to know the technical definition [] of "open".

          But what if Microsoft decided to abuse the term "Open"? Just as in the past companies have marketed their Things as "Thing-o-matic", and then "Thi
      • Re:in other words (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mqj ( 949877 )
        Oversimplifying everything always sucks.

        Yeah, simplifying things suck.
      • Re:in other words (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Trejkaz ( 615352 )
        But with open source, once you contribute code, you are part of "us".
    • work for us without working for us

      It's WORSE than that... note that AFTER the contest, YOU PAY MICROSOFT for using those lovely tools!

      Create your cool Windows CE project using 120-day free evaluation versions of Windows CE and its development tools, either or both of the designated Microsoft Shared Source components, and your own programming ingenuity
      • You pay MS if you wish to continue using the tool after the trial period expires.

        So what?

        No-one is going to be forced to pay anything.
        • Re:in other words (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jkrise ( 535370 )
          You pay MS if you wish to continue using the tool after the trial period expires.

          So what?

          No-one is going to be forced to pay anything.

          So what??? It doesn't drive up my juices to get my hands and brain cells working on CREATING SOMETHING, and PAYING for the privilege.. that's what! The tools are useless to Microsoft unless 'Developers, Developers and Developers' use them, and these developers would not be interested unless:
          a. Sufficient profits can be made after paying for the tools. (AND)
          b. Better tools ar
          • erm, the contest runs about 120 days.. so.. you're bitching that they are giving away their stuff free for the contest period, but not any longer?

            Welcome to the real world.
            • Re:in other words (Score:3, Insightful)

              by tomstdenis ( 446163 )
              The point is why spend time learning and investing in their tools if at the end of this thought experiment you'll just have to throw away what you learned.

              At least if the contest used a proper compiler [e.g. GCC] and development suite at the end of the contest you're still a-go for more development.

              As many other posters said this is just MSFTs little "me too". Their marketdroids just don't get it. The appeal of OSS isn't just that it's free (as in cost) but accessible and distributable. If their "shared
              • By all means, do use a WinCE/WM200X-targetted GCC (which does work... if you're willing to put up with weird issues since almost no one is working on that port). No one (not even MS) is stopping you.
              • Back in the old days, virtually every operating system came with a compiler, but we used GCC because it was better.

                Now, we use GCC because it's the only free one left.

                Although I'd say the vast majority of us are probably not programming much in C or C++ anymore, with the ubiquitousness(sp) of all the other newer scripting interpreted type languagea available these days that weren't 10 years ago.
    • You could consider it working for them without *really* working for them or you could consider it as getting the opportunity to participate in a cool contest, design some really neat applications, and probably get some good name recognition that could help lead to a really good job. For all we know the winner of this contest might actually be offered a job by Microsoft if they seem to be talented enough. Also, the prize package would be pretty valuable to many underpaid programmers. Depending how much time
  • Why not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:44AM (#15392324) Homepage Journal
    Give out development kits for the XBox 360. That would spur a lot more cool shared-source development.
    • and if someone uses this contest to come up with a shared source xbox360 hack to remove the content protection, everyone wins?
    • I'm guessing a Xbox development kit costs at least three grand. It's not like giving away copies of VB Express, there's a lot of hardware involved at all. In short: Don't hold your breath.

      That said, any well-behaved DirectX game can be ported to Xbox or Xbox Live Arcade with minimal effort. There's an article on that somewhere from the developers of Marble Blast for 360...
      • Didn't sony give away a Playstation Linux distro that hackers could play with?

        I'm not suggesting a full blown commerical development xbox, just something to let hobbyists tinker with their own machines.

        They know it's going to happen eventually, and promoting it would draw a lot of users to their machine.
  • Wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BrainInAJar ( 584756 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:45AM (#15392325)
    They've invented the Summer of Code [] but without all that, you know... money
    • Re:Wow... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by GeorgeMcBay ( 106610 )
      Or, you know, the requirement that you be a student, which shuts most people out of Summer of Code participation.
      • Exactly. By the time I actually had enough free time to participate in the Summer of Code, I was no longer a student, since I was usually taking summer courses that condensed 12-16 weeks of classes into 5 weeks.
    • Hmmm...not that I'm any sized fan of Microsoft (bleh), but yeah, while it's not as much outlay of cash for Microsoft, a 34" HDTV and even the Xbox 360, accessories and games definitely cost them something. Drop in the bucket, but still, I'd be pretty happy to get a $1500+ TV, a $300+ game system and a bunch of games.

    • Does someone who works on 'shared source' end up polluted by their access to MS source code? Can they no longer contribute to competing open source projects without being accused of stealing MS IP?

      If so, it's a pretty lousy deal. Give away your code for free to Microsoft. Make it unavailable for use in other contexts, and give up your freedom to contribute *other* code to other projects.

      All for a chance at a free Xbox?
  • by JanMark ( 547992 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:45AM (#15392327) Homepage
    Who has the copyright of the applications?
  • by agent dero ( 680753 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:49AM (#15392344) Homepage
    This seems like another bad-copy of something Google is doing.

    Google Summer of Code: practically any open source project, involving any components you choose, $4500

    MS Summ3r 0f C0d3: their shared source project, involving components they choose, some electronics that don't pay rent or tuition.

    Gee, what a deal.
    • Except, as already stated, you don't need to be a student. Also, since this is due in July, the time investment certainly seems like a lot less than the Google offering i.e. MS Summ3r 0f C0d3 is misleading, it's actually "the June 2006 Windows CE Shared Source Contest".
    • Hey, at least they're using the right web server to host the site: 795134.html

      GET /articles/AT5277795134.html HTTP/1.1
      User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US) Gecko/20060313 Firefox/
      Accept: text/xml,application/xml,application/xhtml+xml,tex t/html;q=0.9,text/plain;q=0.8,image/png,*/*;q=0.5
      Accept-Language: en-us,en;q=0.5
      Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
      Accept-Charset: ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.7
      Keep-Alive: 300

    • In the greater conversation of innovation in the IT industry MS is the guy who says...

      me too!.
  • by loraksus ( 171574 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:53AM (#15392349) Homepage
    That a "Xbox 360 console, a 34-inch HDTV, games, and accessories" is closer to "okay (or even feh)" than a "dream setup"?
    Seems that the prizes are kind of cheap. I'm pretty sure Microsoft will get some pretty decent code out of this (or, if not code, ideas), but is only going to give something away as a token gesture.
    Just another step in the devauluation of programmers and IT folks, I guess.
    • That a "Xbox 360 console, a 34-inch HDTV, games, and accessories" is closer to "okay (or even feh)" than a "dream setup"?

      You are utterly out of touch.

      That is a far, far better setup then most people have - maybe "dream setup" is a bit too much, but it's a gell of a lot better then okay/feh (I'd say an "aweseome setup").
      • Throw in a THX certified surround-sound system with speakers for another $10k and I'll let you call it a dream system :-)
      • If there was a sound system included...
        It looks like this is marketed to bored college students, which, I suppose, is fine, although I've installed about 10 systems that put this to shame in the last year or so. Those folks weren't making killer money, but were well established in their jobs...

    • Wow man. Closer to "okay" or even "feh"? You have some high ass expectations. You are very out of touch. Either that or you think people buy those kinds of things on a whim.

      I probably wouldn't consider it a "dream setup", but it sure as hell wouldn't be "feh". Considering a large portion of the population don't even have HD TV's, stuck with their 19-32" standard TV's and basic components. I'd consider that a pretty nice reward for a contest like like this.
      • Microsoft is getting tens of thousands of dollars' worth of development time out of it though, and last time I checked an XBox 360 + 34" HDTV wouldn't even crack the 10k mark. My initial reaction was "it's not as good as Google's $4500" but frankly "feh" to that too!

        Note that "Development Time" includes design and R&D and all those other expenses involved in delivering a good bit of software. Microsoft are getting around doing that by using your basic "Million Monkeys" approach.
        • Cost of the "dream package" is $2500 according to the article. It really depends what demographic they are trying to appeal to. If they are trying to appeal to students, sure, it is a great package, but if they are trying to appeal to folks who already do higher end work in game design, this isn't all that much. Heck, a 34" TV is about the smallest tv you can buy without going to the "tiny on purpose because you're going to put it in the kitchen" TVs.
          The runner up prizes were worth under $400

          At the very lea
    • I think you are right. There is also no mention if the HDTV can do HD-full (1080i or 1080p). In all honesty, an HDTV without 1080p does *not* qualify as a dream setup.
  • Brilliant Move (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:59AM (#15392361) Homepage Journal
    Despite comparisons to Google's Summer of Code (which is far more generous to the community on the whole) this is in fact a smart move for Microsoft. They get code on the cheap, and PR at the whole time.

    If I ran a business like Microsoft, I'd be doing the same type of things.
  • amazing... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @04:02AM (#15392370)
    does this include GPL???

    rules []

    However, we encourage you to make the source code available under a license that offers users very broad use rights, with few restrictions, and so would enable a larger community to come together for learning, collaboration, and reuse based on your Project. For an example, see the Microsoft Permissive License.
    • Re:amazing... (Score:2, Interesting)

      Also from the rules

      In order to participate in the Contest, you must be a professional or amateur embedded developer and 18 years or older; however, residents of the following countries are ineligible to participate due to legal constraints: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.

      Why is iraq included on that list? I thought Iraq was now a peaceful democracy, and iraqis should be able to work for free for MS just like everyone else!

      Oh! - and the MS-PL doesn't sound too permissive [] to me!

      This l

      • "What! You have to accept the license to use it? Not too permissive...."

        So I can copy GPL'ed code and just ignore the license? Sweet deal.

        • So I can copy GPL'ed code and just ignore the license? Sweet deal.

          Er ... yes, you can. You just can't distribute a binary made from GPL'ed code without making the source available.

          Or do have another meaning for 'copy'?
        • So I can copy GPL'ed code and just ignore the license? Sweet deal.


          The GPL is a license on distribution, not use. In the license itself it says You are not required to accept this License, since you have not signed it. []

          Do you see the difference now? Microsoft requires you to accept their license to use their software. The GPL/BSD license do not.

          I suggest you have a read of the FSF's licenses + comments [] page before making smartass comments.
          • Touché, though I fail to see how this is anything other than a difference in semantics. They are both essentially licenses for the distribution of software - the fact that one must be accepted before using said software whereas the other must be accepted before distributing. Since they both apply to distribution of the software (I've read the MS-PL and it makes no mentions on conditions of use aside from that first line) this seems like a tiny difference to be making such a big stink over.

            But heck, y

            • Well, I'm hardly a copyright lawyer, but section 3(b):
              (B) If you begin patent litigation against Microsoft over patents that you think may apply to the software (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit), your license to the software ends automatically.
              Sounds like a condition on usage, with the threat of usage withdrawal.

              If you violate the GPL, you lose the right to distribute, not usage rights.
        • Wow! You think "use" and "copy" are the same thing? Fascinating!
      • I thought Libya were the good guys now. Didn't Bush just take them off the terrorist list (or whatever the "bad people" list is called).

        Don't even get me started on those cubans, I mean the all the terrorism committed by cubans in the last 50 years it's a wonder we have any Americans left at all. We should definately keep them from coding, who knows what kind of a weird terrorist code the cubans will write. I hear those cubans are so evil and smart that they can make your brain explode if you read their cod
        • Don't even get me started on those cubans,

          I concur - why the fuck does anyone give a damn about Cuba anymore?

          I mean, just because the Women are better looking there then in the US doesn't mean America has to ban all the goddamn trade does it?
    • The linked license appears to be essentially the same as the GPL other than claiming to cover use of the software, and the patent aspects, so I can't see why not.
    • "Few restrictions" doesn't sound like the GPL I'm familiar with. *cough* linking restrictions *uncough*
  • Seems Microsoft is pushing REALLY hard these days to gain dominance in the mobile phone and small devices market. Well, I'm not going to help them. You know what will start to happen if they get to dictate the standards.

    Me, I'll go with JavaME. There are over 300 million Java enabled phones in the world, and 60% of new phones sold come with it preinstalled. There were a lot of prizes to be won at the this years Java One. Sony Ericsson [] and Motorola [] among others encourages people to use JavaME.

    I tried develop
  • FtFA: "Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for Microsoft Corporation and its agents to use winner's name and likeness for advertising and promotional purposes without additional compensation unless prohibited by law."

    You might find yourself the unwitting spokesperson for the new XBox 360 Boonga Boonga [] clone!
    • So does Google... (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Taken form Google Summer of Code Policy:

      "In addition, all program participants agree to cooperate with Google's publicity efforts, without further compensation. This includes the agreement to use their name, address (city and state or country only), likeness and project deliverables for publicity purposes, where legal, for this or similar future programs, and to use the statements made by, or attributed to, the participants relating to Google and any and all rights to said use, without further compensation.
  • by BestNicksRTaken ( 582194 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @04:09AM (#15392399)
    All of this Microsoft opensource stuff is hollow.

    How about they "share the source" to the Xbox 360 filesystem, or publish an SDK or Linux distribution, jees even evil Sony managed that?

    How about not trying to patent the FAT filesystem, or opening up the specs to NTFS?

    How about giving us the source to WGA, or stop crippling your free Visual Studio Express?

    Yeah, make us create stuff to help sell or fix your products, but don't give anything back.
    • hmmm and in what name, exactly, should MS give you the source code they paid millions for?
    • "How about they share the source...publish an SDK...not trying to patent...opening up the us the source...stop crippling your.."

      Nothing wrong with asking MS for free stuff (except maybe the social embarrasment of begging), but why the howls when you think they are doing the same thing to you?

      "Yeah, make us..."

      Perhaps you have the MS brain chip implant, but speaking for myself: MS cannot make me do anything. By the same logic I cannot make MS do anything they don't want to do.
    • While it is quite crippled, Visual C++ Express is quite useable after installing the XP Platform SDK and wxWidgets. I'm working on a project at work using that as the Windows compiler (most of the work is being done on OS X and Linux).

      Here's a good tutorial on making Visual C++ Express useful: n-visual-c-express.html [] Setup_Guide []
    • Yeah! Microsoft is so evil! Hey, BTW, could some helpful soul out there please point me to the sources for Gmail, Google Desktop, the Google Toolbar, Google Maps, and the Google search engine?
  • odd, SoC... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by deander2 ( 26173 ) * <public@kered . o rg> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @04:14AM (#15392407) Homepage
    odd that they would announce this the very day google announces the summer of code winners...
    • That sounds like a plausible explanation for the whole thing, the chances of someone writing a "killer app" for a dinky MS competion are practically nil. MS may be "evil" but they are not stupid.
  • rhetorical rhetorical rhetorical, damn content checker ;)
  • Exclusive Mr. Fusion prototype..
  • A method for the dead to feed off the living springs to mind...
  • by kahei ( 466208 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @04:31AM (#15392464) Homepage

    Lordy lordy, it would take me YEARS of work at a regular job to afford these kind of luxury status symbols! But now Microsoft is giving me a one-in-a-million shot at joining the middle class -- and I might just be lucky!

    No, seriously, I know.

    But listen, while you're here, buddy *hic* what about FlexWiki? I'm talkin' about the honkin' big Microsoft open source Wiki project here. I mean, what I'm sayin' is... *hic* why's it so worthless? When it oughta have so many resources behind it, and when MS (and me, too) could really do with a wiki written in C# as opposed to PHP? Wouldn't ya think they could just take a few guys aside, give'em 6 months to come up with a good wiki? And yet here we are. Here we are, buddy. Bartender! Another glass of C# for my freind here! And go easy on the XML this time, huh?

  • For legitimate homebrew, I would wait for the PS3 and its inclusion of Linux. Why waste your efforts on something thats only for a contest, when you could build long-term projects for the PS3, and possibly see them arrive for the larger Linux community?

    Speaking of which, am I the only one who see's the PS3 as the world's greatest way to sneak Linux in the backdoor into homes? Imagine the possibilities of turning a PS3 into a fully functional desktop, except with the massive horsepower of the Cell architec

  • by kahei ( 466208 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @04:45AM (#15392498) Homepage

    Now Microsoft, my dear fellow, here's a thing: one doesn't create cool, real-world apps on a 120-day trial version of an OS. It simply isn't done. Oh, how I wish it were; but as it's not, it just isn't.

    Now, I realize this is all part of your 'capture markets that everyone actively avoids' strategy.

    Having advanced into the 'phones that stop you from playing music' market and the 'OS licenses that suddenly cut out because you didn't keep on paying' market, you're now charging into the 'writing software for environments which you have so little interest in that you need a time-limited trial version' market.

    Tally-ho, eh?

    Splendid stuff but to be quite honest I'm not at all sure you know what you're doing!

    Anyway toodle-pip. I have the Duke of Guernsey coming over for Quake. Quake 2, that is -- old Guernsey isn't quite on top of the trends, I fear! Splendid chap nonetheless. Anyway I must dash. Fucktard.

  • Vide (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Halo1 ( 136547 )
    a short video that demonstrates the successful operation of the project.
    Are you allowed to doctor the video []?
  • I thought the XBox couldn't do "proper" HDTV formats so why waste the money on a HDTV prize ;)

    I mean, MS are currently trying to save money []!
  • SoC: - mentoring by an open source organisation - $4500 and 500 to an open source organisation MS: - 4 Xboxes Cheapskates.
  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @05:20AM (#15392572) Journal
    From TFA: "Create your cool Windows CE project using 120-day free evaluation versions of Windows CE and its development tools, either or both of the designated Microsoft Shared Source components, and your own programming ingenuity".

    So, you complete a great cool project, everyone gets to use your code... and then! You Pay Microsoft for continued use of the tools used!
  • Tainted Youth (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NickFortune ( 613926 )
    Oh, lovely!

    Offer prizes with kiddie appeal to get the young 'uns in. Get formal agreement to a Shared Source NDA, so Microsoft have a paper trail for future use.

    Then, if at some future date, one of these bright sparks decides to do some open source coding, or even just to work for anyone who dares compete with microsoft for that matter, MS can say: "That's our IP! They signed an NDA!" and steal the rights to the code.

    Not of course that they'd be unprinicpled as to do anything like that. Why, I bet i

  • Microsoft is finally waking up and seeing that they actually have to change their ways and act like they're part of the community and not just dictating the software and services they provide down upon everyone. Acting more like google and apple might actually draw in the more open-source oriented developers, who have prefered these other companies in the past because they get given a little and can contribute a little in return.

    I think Sun has the best model set up, with Java and Netbeans etc, but Microso
  • by Captain Entendre ( 696145 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @06:05AM (#15392666)
    The 120-day trial version has been around forever, it's only the contest that's new. The CE dev tools cost around $1k/seat. No slashdotter is going to fork over that kind of cash to do OS development on the weekends. And what would develop against? Most phones and PDAs are locked up tight.

    On the other hand, Linux is free and there's stuff like the WRT54g to run it on. So who is the target audience for this contest? Do they just want to get professional set-top-box developers exposed to their DVR stuff?

    This would actually make sense if they were targeting existing customers. But who do they expect (or hope) will spend 4 months coding furionsly on some cool project, only to lose access to the development tools when it's all over?

  • Microsoft Outsources R&D

    I guess they've finally realised that after two decades of copying Apple, and giving the world Microsoft Bob as their only real innovation, their R&D department might need a bit of help...

  • Open Source is one of Microsoft's biggest fears. So what do they do?

    They electroshock their PR department awake and tell them, "Do some studies! Burn some mid-night oil at the library of Human Psychology! Figure out how to combat this Open Source thing! Get ON it!"

    So they did, and this is what they came back with. . .

    "Open Source is a big and real threat, but only if people believe that Open Source is a worthy thing. So we tried to shape public opinion on the matter. First we tried trivializing it, an

The absent ones are always at fault.