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Microsoft taps open-source mojo with coding contest

May 23, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Microsoft is sponsoring its first open, er, make that “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 apps using designated href=”/AT2750205240.html” target=”new”>shared source components.

Open source, Microsoft-style

Microsoft launched its Windows CE shared source initiative in 2002, under a restrictive license granting commercial use only to large CE licensees in specific geographic locations, and requiring modifications to be “shared” with Microsoft. Microsoft added a “premium” licensing option in 2003 that permits manufacturers to actually redistribute modified OS code in real products, albeit with volume and geographic restrictions still in place. A looser “BSD-like” option was added in 2004, and at some point a noncommercial “academic” option was also added. More details about Microsoft's current Windows CE Shared Source options — which vary according to licensee and code categories — can be found here.

In all, Microsoft currently offers six shared-source licenses for various Windows OS versions and customer types. However, none appear to have been submitted to the OSI (open source initiative) for consideration as true open source licenses.

Microsoft recently launched a SourceForge-like CodePlex site for community projects. Currently, the site remains in beta, and only 23 projects appear to be hosted there so far.

The Shared Source Contest

According to the Windows CE Shared Source Contest homepage, developers are invited to “create a cool, real-world project that combines Windows CE along with either or both of two Shared Source components — the Windows CE WebCam driver and/or the Windows CE DVR engine.” Embedded platforms or the “CEPC” emulator running on a normal PC are acceptable targets.

In addition to source code, entrants will have to submit a whitepaper and a video showing their application in action. Participants are encouraged, though not required, to release their project's code under “a license that offers users very broad use rights, with few restrictions” (i.e. BSD-like). Additionally, modifications to the designated Microsoft Shared Source components must be released under each component's respective Shared Source license, and entries will be judged in part according to the Shared Source component modifications involved.

Other judging criteria include originality, real-world practicality, project documentation, and a short video demonstrating the successful operation of the project.

The Grand Prize is a $2,500 Xbox 360 dream setup including console, 34-inch HDTV, games, and accessories for four. Three other winners will be awarded Xbox 360 game consoles.

Entries are due at midnight, PDT, on July 28th. The contest was announced on May 23rd, and winners will be announced after Aug. 15th.

Introducing the June 2006 Windows CE Shared Source Contest

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