Microsoft gets the open-source licensing nod from the OSI

Summary:Microsoft was awarded an official Open Source Initiative (OSI) approval for the two Shared Source licenses it submitted for consideration in August -- but not without agreeing to some OSI-requested changes first.

Microsoft was awarded an official Open Source Initiative (OSI) approval for the two Shared Source licenses it submitted for consideration in August -- but not without agreeing to some OSI-requested changes first.

Microsoft gets the open-source licensing nod from the OSI
On October 16, Microsoft officials announced that the Microsoft Permissive License (MS-PL) -- which is now known as the Microsoft Public License (MSP) -- and Microsoft Community License (MS-CL) -- now designated as the Microsoft Reciprocal License (MSL) had gotten the OSI Board's nod. Microsoft did not submit its Microsoft Reference License (MS-RL) for OSI consideration.

There was considerable push-back from a number of open-source backers, especially around the Microsoft Permissive License, when Microsoft submitted two of its three Shared Source licenses for OSI standards consideration. While some open-source backers welcomed Microsoft to the party, others wondered aloud about Microsoft's reasons for seeking OSI approval now.

"I personally enjoyed hearing the wide diversity of opinions from the community, including the legal professionals who weighed in on the discussion," blogged Rosenberg on October 16.

Rosenberg noted that Microsoft altered the names of its licenses at the open-source community's request and is working on clarifying its language around Shared Source/open source terminology. Rosenberg explained:

"During the discussion period, we were pleased to respond to the communities requests for additional clarity in the licenses by renaming them to the Microsoft Public License and the Microsoft Reciprocal License. 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. 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 changes, now that Microsoft has gotten the OSI stamp of approval? According to a company spokeswoman:

  • Microsoft has committed to publishing these licenses separately on our web site as to not confuse with other Shared Source offerings. This will be forthcoming.
  • Developers who choose to use the (new licenses)can be confident that their code is OSD compliant. The OSI maintains the OSD here: http://opensource.org/docs/osd
  • Shared Source is the program at Microsoft that will continue to maintain these licenses.

What do you expect Microsoft to do with its OSI-approved licenses? Rosenberg said folks shoudl expect to see "a lot of great code come out under these two open source licenses and we are happy to be able to call them, 'OSI Approved.'"

Do you anticipate Microsoft will push to have more of its technologies and products released under these new licenses, so that the company will have a greater chance of them being considered "open standards" when submitting technologies for government/RFP consideration? Other thoughts?

Topics: Open Source, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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