Microsoft's Scott Guthrie announced yesterday on his blog that he and his team will make a long awaited shift in .NET development, a move that was expected for years by many developers. With the .NET 3.5 and VS 2008 release later this year, Microsoft will be offering source code (with source file comments included) for the .NET Framework libraries. The source code will be released under the Microsoft Reference License (MS-RL).

"We'll begin by offering the source code (with source file comments included) for the .NET Base Class Libraries (System, System.IO, System.Collections, System.Configuration, System.Threading, System.Net, System.Security, System.Runtime, System.Text, etc), ASP.NET (System.Web), Windows Forms (System.Windows.Forms), ADO.NET (System.Data), XML (System.Xml), and WPF (System.Windows). We'll then be adding more libraries in the months ahead (including WCF, Workflow, and LINQ)."

The .NET Framework source libraries will be available for download as a standalone install (allowing you to use any text editor to browse it locally). VS 2008 will also provide integrated debugging support within the IDE, enabling you to press F11 ("Step Into") and drill into the .NET Framework source implementation with the debugger.

The post offers some preview screen-shots and detailed info.

It's not a first for Microsoft to disclose source code for some of its libraries, they have done it before with MFC, and this "new" concept looks a lot like that. Maybe there are other reasons for doing that at this moment, with Sun openning the source code for Java.

This move has stirred reactions from Mono development community, Miguel de Icaza him self publishing a long post on his web log making some speculations about why Microsoft choosed to open the source code.

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