Microsoft now wants its Shared Source licenses to qualify as open source

Summary:Microsoft officials said at the O'Reilly Open Source conference this week that they are going to seek Open Source Initiative (OSI) approval for Microsoft's Shared Source licenses, but have not provided specifics. Why is Microsoft interested in doing this now?

Microsoft has decided it wants its Shared Source license to get the official "open source" label, after all.

Microsoft officials said at the O'Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON) conference this week that they are going to seek Open Source Initiative (OSI) approval, but have not provided a specific timetable as to when the company will do so.

Last year, a programmer submitted the Microsoft Community License, one of its Shared Source licenses, to the OSI, but did so without Microsoft's blessing. Microsoft officials said at that time they were not ready or willing to seek the OSI's blessing.

Microsoft has three different Shared Source licenses: The Microsoft Permissive License (Ms-PL) Microsoft Community License (Ms-CL) and the Microsoft Reference License (Ms-RL). It's not clear whether Microsoft will seek OSI approval for one or all of these licenses.

Microsoft already has released a few of its products under OSI-backed open-source licenses. Why is Microsoft interested in going even broader and getting the official OSI OK to call anything licensed under Shared Source as "open source"?

The closest thing I could find to an answer to that question cam from Microsoft Port 25 blogger Jon Rosenberg:

"IT professionals told us they wanted both platform choices and platform interoperability. Developers told us that they wanted more open collaboration and that the language of that collaboration is code. In response, Microsoft has reached interoperability agreements with several key vendors of open source software, CodePlex is now supporting 2,000 collaborative development projects, and the features of CodePlex itself are largely driven by the votes of the community.

"Today, we reached another milestone with the decision to submit our open licenses to the OSI approval process, which, if the licenses are approved, should give the community additional confidence that the code we’re sharing is truly Open Source. I believe that the same voices that have been calling for Microsoft products to better interoperate with open source products would voice their approval should the Open Source Initiative itself open up to more of the IT industry."

What's your theory? Why do you think Microsoft is interested now in getting OSI approval for its Shared Source licenses? If you are a Microsoft customer, do you care whether or not Microsoft software is covered by an OSI-approved license?

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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