Microsoft releases Singularity under unapproved license

The restriction on the code being "subjected" to the various terms of other licenses effectively isolates the code from being used with seemingly anything outside of this particular project.

Scales of Justice
Microsoft has released some important code under an open source license -- psych.

As with the image of blind justice to the right, you can look but you better not touch.

Singularity is the name of the project, a microkernel in which the kernel, drivers and applications are all under managed code. But the Microsoft Research License (MSR-LA) under which it is offered is not approved by the OSI.

The license allows only academic twiggling and any improvements go back to Redmond. Businesses can neither use it nor incorporate it in what they do under the license.

Had Microsoft wanted to make an open source release it has pushed two such licenses through the OSI process -- the Microsoft Public License and the Microsoft Reciprocal License.  It chose not to do this.

Instead it's using MSR-LA, which as Palamida's GPL3 blog notes is "free as in beer, not free speech."

It is certainly intended to keep all creative work produced under it within the scope of the Singularity research project and also within Microsoft itself. The restriction on the code being "subjected" to the various terms of other licenses effectively isolates the code from being used with seemingly anything outside of this particular project. If the goal is to experiment and do research to develop new techniques and tools, the possibilities here seem unusually limited.

It is true that some academics who like to play with Microsoft code, and support Microsoft technologies like .Net, will find value here.

But everyone else needs to be wary. Lawyers bite. And Microsoft's are hungry.