Microsoft enables CodePlex projects to use GPLv3 license

Microsoft enables CodePlex projects to use GPLv3 license

Summary: Microsoft is now allowing developers hosting open-source projects on its CodePlex site to use the once-dreaded GPLv3 open source license.


With little fanfare, Microsoft — or at least one part of it — has gone from considering the GNU General Public License v.3 (GPLv3) "evil" to "acceptable."


On October 3, Microsoft announced that, for the first time, it would allow open-source projects hosted on its CodePlex site to specify use of the GPLv3 license. CodePlex is a Microsoft-run site for hosting open-source projects.

GPLv3 is now one of the license choices that CodePlex developers see in a drop-down list offering them licensing choices. Other options in the drop-down include Apache 2.0, Simplified BSD, GPLv2, Mozilla Public License 2, and a handful of Microsoft open-source licenses. Individuals interested in hosting an open source project on CodePlex need to select a license at the time they first put their projects on the site.

Developers have been asking Microsoft to add the GPLv3 license as an option on CodePlex since 2008, if not before. In last week's blog post, Technical Fellow Brian Harry noted that developers' demands were finally being realized:

"We want to keep the licensing of projects on CodePlex as simple as possible which is why we keep the drop-down list of licenses short and simple. But it was clear that GPLv3 is important enough and there was enough community demand that it deserved a place in the list."

Developers who don't see their favorite open-source license in the drop down can contact the CodePlex team and request the right to use other open-source licenses, Harry notes.

It's surprising that Microsoft finally added GPLv3 to its CodePlex list, given Microsoft management's (and legal's) fear and loathing of that particular open-source license.

Back in 2007, when Microsoft kicked off its campaign to get Linux vendors — starting with Novell — to license Microsoft patents to head off potential legal action, GPLv3 was a big stumbling block. There was supposedly concern on Microsoft's part that under the GPLv3, Microsoft itself could be considered a "Linux distributor," and thus beholden to the GPL v3 terms as a result of the support terms that were part of the Microsoft-Novell pact. Microsoft execs publicly expressed worry that GPLv3 was attempting to erode the distinctions between open and closed source.

I asked Microsoft officials what, if anything, had changed around the company's thinking about GPLv3 to merit its inclusion in CodePlex. A company spokesperson didn't provide a direct answer; instead I got a statement reiterating Microsoft's desire to making things easier for developers who want to open-source their projects on CodePlex.

Topics: Open Source, Microsoft, Software Development


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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  • no big deal

    just another item in a combo box.
    Nobody would put their latest GPL code there, just to be corrupted and stolen by the M$ crooks.
    LlNUX Geek
    • Codeplex is a repository similar to GitHub and Sourceforge

      It contains open source applications created by Microsoft as well as others. I have one in there.

      There is no evidence Microsoft has ever illegally appropriated code from this repository. However, the whole concept of FOSS is that it is free, right? So it would be pretty hard for them to "steal" anything, unless they violated the license... which again there is no evidence of them doing.
      • Huh?

        Without code review, how do you know if any code was or was not lifted?
    • Some Must Pay You To Troll

      Otherwise it would seam like you would have something better to do with your time.
  • No Contributions

    "I asked Microsoft officials what, if anything, had changed around the company's thinking about GPLv3 to merit its inclusion in CodePlex."

    Simple. No one was posting code if GPLv3 was not present. No GPLv3 option on Codeplex. No problem, host on SourceForge or elsewhere.