Microsoft to allow Eclipse, Mozilla licences for WP7 apps

Developers are to get more open-source licensing options for Windows Phone 7 applications, but the Free Software Foundation Europe says Microsoft is still avoiding strong copyleft terms
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Microsoft is to allow developers to distribute Windows Phone 7 apps under the Eclipse Public License and Mozilla Public License, a senior product manager said on Tuesday.

Windows Phone 7 apps licences

Microsoft will permit developers to use Eclipse and Mozilla licences on WP7 apps. Credit: Microsoft

In a post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog, Todd Brix said the Marketplace Application Provider Agreement (APA) would shortly be updated to "permit applications under the Eclipse Public License, the Mozilla Public License and other, similar licences". The APA already allows applications under open-source licences including BSD, MIT, Apache Software License 2.0 and Microsoft Public License.

Will Coleman, Microsoft's UK lead on Windows Phone 7 (WP7), told ZDNet UK on Wednesday that the company is still "working through" the practicalities of allowing Eclipse and Mozilla-licensed apps. "The team needs to verify that those licensing agreements are suitable to fit with the Marketplace APA," he said.

Notable shift

However, Free Software Foundation Europe chief Karsten Gerloff said on Wednesday that the list of open-source licences permitted by the company represented a "very clear example of Microsoft trying to divide and rule".

"It is conspicuous that the default GPL [GNU General Public License] family of licences is not in there," Gerloff told ZDNet UK. Noting that GPL licences ensure strong copyleft — a principle mandating the free distribution of even derived works — and said Microsoft "apparently can't cope with licences that really provide software freedom in the long term".

Brix's blog post also detailed a few more changes to Microsoft's deal with its WP7 developer community. One of the notable shifts is the introduction of a Global Publisher Program, which will help developers around the world submit their apps to the Marketplace through publishers acting on their behalf.

Further updates

Microsoft has also raised the limit on the number of certifications that can be performed for free apps at no cost to the developer — this was five, but now stands at 100 — and removed a rule that forced developers to include contact information for app support.

Brix also used the post to detail some of Microsoft's findings regarding trial-use and ad-supported apps. He said nearly one in 10 trial apps converted to a purchase and "generate 10 times more revenue, on average, than paid apps that don't include trial functionality".

Of the ad-funded apps in the Marketplace, over 95 percent use Microsoft's Ad Control platform, he added, noting that impressions for these advertisements had increased by nearly 400 percent since January.

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