Microsoft gets the open-source licensing nod from the OSI

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 OSIOn 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:
  • 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


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Oh mah gosh!

    Hell just froze over! ]:)
    Linux User 147560
    • Sure did.

      I got my ice skates out from storage. Hopefully Adobe will follow suit. Sun did. I am an Adobe/Sun ho. Java, Flex, AIR, CF and Flash. An one ring to rule them all... Eclipse.
      Duke E. Love
    • Oh mah gosh!

      Get your skates out baby! And Sharpen them!!!!
  • It gets better for users and coders everyday.

    Keep up the good efforts Microsoft!
    • still a Long road to achive GPL approval!

      The only good license is GPL.
      The rest are just some lame wana bees!
      Linux Geek
      • huh?

        They want to be bees? o_O
      • How does the GPL affect 007 :)

        THEE WOLF
      • Nice going, troll!

        Try again, next time!
        Grayson Peddie
        • Acually...

          The GPL is much better than any other open source licenses. The GNU foundation started open source, and all the rest are just groups that are started by corporations who want their software to look 'open source', so they can feel good about themselves. Microsoft is gonna have to make a lot of changes to get GPL certification, and they know it.

      • The LGPL is better than the GPL

        And the Microsoft reciprocal license is better than either.
      • Only GPL Matters?

        So the BSD, MPL and MIT licenses are justt "wannabes" also?
    • How so?

      How so? I don't really see the benefits - there's plenty of approved licenses out there. What makes Microsoft's licenses any different from other OSI approved licenses?
    • These are reasonable licenses.

      These are both reasonable licenses. The public license is less permissive than the
      BSD/MIT family of licenses but it's good. The reciprocal license is definitely more
      permissive than the GPL and LGPL.

      What Microsoft releases under these licenses, that's what's going to be interesting.
      Will they actually put anything into the open source ecosystem that's worthwhile?
      • what's reasonable?

        Everyone has a different idea of what's reasonable. I don't see the Microsoft licenses as being anywhere near reasonable.
    • what's good?

      It might be of some little use to existing MS customers - sorry, pirates. It would be of no value to Free Software people - it's bait for "that mob stole Microsoft Patented Technology (R)". Contributors to Free Software should simply avoid ever looking at any MS code, especially if it is released under these so-called 'open source' licenses.
  • wait and see

    Let's not get too excited. Just because they hammered out the terms for two licenses doesn't mean that they will release anything of value under those licenses. Of course, we all hope they do, but that remains to be seen.

    So far, they can claim to have two OSI approved licenses, butI know of NO (ZERO - ZILCH - NADA) software released under them. Knowing Microsoft, it will be limited to drivers for Microsoft-badged hardware or Microsoft drivers for 3rd-party devices.

    Billy didn't get rich by giving anything away. Let's wait and see...
    • Ditto...

      And kudos on your channeling abilities. ;-) This is almost word for word what I'd have written if you hadn't done it first.
    • .NET is going to be released under Shared Source....

      thats probably of some value.
      • Don't be fooled...

        Shared Source is not open source. The license chosen for the .NET source code(MS Reference License) fails the open source definition on more than one criteria. Case in point: If you've seen any .NET source code, you can't make code contributions to the Mono project because the license forbids redistribution.

        Note to srobtjones: While you are technically correct right now, I suspect Microsoft will follow up by moving software like IronPython to the new Microsoft Public License(it's currently under the old Ms-PL). It makes no sense to get a license OSI-approved and then put nothing under it.
        Tony Agudo
      • The reference license is irrelevant

        The MS reference license isn't one of the licenses described here, and it's not even
        vaguely related to anything like open source. It's no different from any of the non-
        disclosure source-code licenses that companies have been using since the '60s to
        release code that was impractical to restrict the distribution of... if anything it's MORE
        restrictive than most of them.