Waiting for the Other Shoe…

Microsoft has become an Open Source contributor.


Of course the company could not simply use one of the license models already in place. That would be simple, imply good will, and a spirit of cooperation. None of that for the boys in Redmond.

Not only does the company not want to use a standard model, it was apparently important to get the Microsoft brand onto the license as well. So we are now the recipients of two new license names and types.

The Microsoft Public License allows the licensee the right to use copyrighted and patented material expressed in the software royalty-free. Then the Microsoft Reciprocal License allows extended rights added to the Public License, stipulating that licensees who distribute any derivative of the program must also distribute its source code.

If you look at those licenses in the light of day, they certainly look a lot like others we have seen, not much different than GPL, except that the name Microsoft is used.

You know what is said about PR…               (Microsoft wants lots of it!)

from Port 25

“In the process of the license discussion, we also heard additional calls for more clarity in our communication regarding the wide range of Shared Source licensing options available from Microsoft,” wrote Rosenberg. “Some Shared Source licenses clearly meet the open source definition and others do not. In the future, we will continue to solicit feedback from the community to ensure crisp delineation of these different license types on our website.”

What appears to have failed was what Microsoft had been calling its “Limited Permissive License,” which explicitly forbade redistribution of shared code to Windows platforms only. OSI rules disallow any restriction of code to specific platforms or groups of platforms.

What obviously changed was Microsoft’s nomenclature – the “Public License” had been referred to as the “Microsoft Permissive License.” Though on the one hand the term had a certain marketing ring to it, OSI members may have objected to phraseology that made it appear Microsoft was in a higher position to permit or deny rights to individuals with whom it plans to share code. The “Reciprocal License” had been referred to as the “Microsoft Community License,” though it may not have been entirely accurate for Microsoft to have presumed it was permitting redistribution rights to the “community” rather than just to the licensee.


Of course, the blowhards on Port 25 made a big deal about it. They had to. It’s part of their job description. It’s in the propaganda clause, which I would show you, except it is not permitted, as its not open source.

It will be interesting to see how much this attempt at rehabilitating the Microsoft name does, and if any good will falls its way. I doubt many people from Virginia or Utah will be persuaded.

[tags] Microsoft, OSI, new license model, Port 25, Novell, Red Hat [/tags]