If you are a member of the Microsoft developer community, you've probably heard of the recent kerfuffle between Microsoft and the developer of TestDriven.NET that was publicized in his blog post Microsoft vs TestDriven.Net Express. I'm not going to comment directly on the situation especially since lawyers are involved. However I did find the perspective put forth by Leon Bambrick in his post TestDriven.net-Gate: Don't Blame Microsoft, Blame Jason Weber to be quite insightful.

Leon Bambrick wrote

If you have time, you really ought to read the whole thing. I've read as much as I can, and here's my analysis.

Right from the start, before tempers flared, Microsoft's representative, Jason Weber should've done a much better job of convincing Jamie not to release the express sku. Jason did put a lot of effort in, and Microsoft spent a lot of effort on this, but Jason sabotaged his own sides efforts right throughout.

The first clear mistake is that Jason should've never referred to Jamie's work as a "hack". He did this repeatedly -- and it seems to have greatly exacerbated the situation. What did that wording gain Jason (or Microsoft)? It only worked to insult the person he was trying to come to agreement with. Name calling doesn't aid negotiation.

When Jamie finally agreed to remove the express version, he wanted a credible reason to put on his website. Note that Jamie had backed down now, and with good treatment the thing should've been resolved at that point. Here's the wording that Jason recommended:

"After speaking with Jason Weber from Microsoft I realized that by adding features to Visual Studio Express I was in breach of the Visual Studio license agreements and copyrights. I have therefore decided to remove support for the Visual Studio Express SKU's from TestDriven.Net. Jason was very supportive of TestDriven.Net's integration into the other Visual Studio 2005 products and I was invited to join the VSIP program. This would allow me to fly to Redmond each quarter and work closely with the Visual Studio development team on deeper integration."

This wording is offensive on four levels. One Two Three Four. That's a lot of offense!

Firstly -- it acts as an advertisement for Jason Weber. Why? Arrogance maybe? He's lording it over Jamie.

Second -- it supposes that Jason should publicly admit to violations. He need never admit such a thing.

Third -- it includes mention of breach of "copyright". I don't think such an allegation ever came up until that point. So this was a fresh insult.

Fourth -- it stings Jamie's pride, by suggesting that he was bribed into agreement. Ouch

So just when they got close to agreement, Jason effectively kicked Jamie in the nuts, pissed in his face, poked him in the eye, and danced on his grave.

That's not a winning technique in negotiations.

I believe there is a lesson on negotiating tactics that can be extracted from this incident. I really hope this situation reaches an amicable conclusion for the sakes of all parties involved.