Microsoft mulls changing Windows Phone Marketplace terms to add more open-source licenses

Microsoft officials say they are considering modifying the Windows Phone Application Provider Agreement to add more open-source licenses "in upcoming revisions."

As headlines rolled by over the past couple of days claiming Microsoft was banning free and open-source applications from its Windows Phone Marketplace, I sat back and waited.

I was waiting to see what Microsoft officials would say, if anything, about the terms and conditions detailed in its Application Provider Agreement for the phone Marketplace. According to that document, brought to light this week by a Red Hat evangelist, apps licensed under the GNU GPLv 3, GNU Affero General Public License version 3, the GNU Lesser General Public License version 3, and "any equivalents to the foregoing" are banned from the Windows Phone Marketplace. (Apple also has banned GPL'd software from its own App Store.)

How could Microsoft officials -- at least some of whom are attempting to court the open-source development community -- reconcile this ban with Redmond's supposedly more open-source-friendly stance?

At the very end of the day on February 17, I finally got an answer from the Softies. A spokesperson noted that some open-source-licensed apps are allowed in the Windows Phone Marketplace today. And there may be hope that the pool of supported licenses will grow -- if there's enough developer and customer push-back.

From the spokesperson:

“The Windows Phone Marketplace supports several open source licenses, including BSD, MIT, Apache Software License 2.0, MS-PL and other similar permissive licenses. We revise our Application Provider Agreement from time to time based on customer and developer feedback, and we are exploring the possibility of modifying it to accommodate additional open source-based applications in upcoming revisions.”

So there you have it. If you want Microsoft to include more open-source-licensed apps on Windows Phone, now's the time to make it known....I've asked Microsoft execs where and how developers should make sure their feedback on this issue is seen. If/when I get an answer, I'll add it here.