Microsoft clarifies open-source certification policy

Microsoft Corp. clarified its plans to seek open-source certification for its shared-source licenses on Wednesday, saying it will submit only the two licenses that allow source code to be used on any platform for approval. Microsoft announced last week that it would offer its shared-source licenses, which it uses to release source code for free […]

Microsoft Corp. clarified its plans to seek open-source certification for its shared-source licenses on Wednesday, saying it will submit only the two licenses that allow source code to be used on any platform for approval.

Microsoft announced last week that it would offer its shared-source licenses, which it uses to release source code for free use, to the Open Source Initiative (OSI) for potential ratification as a legitimate method for open-source developers to share their work.

However, OSI president Michael Tiemann said in an interview published Monday that not all of Microsoft's five licenses appeared to pass the OSI's muster.

In particular, several "limited" versions of the licenses required that code or applications run only on Windows PCs. That, Tiemann said, contravened one of the OSI's fundamental tenets: that the licenses not restrict users' ability to run the code in any way.

Through a spokeswoman, Microsoft said that it only plans to submit the Microsoft Permissive License and the Microsoft Community License -- not the limited versions of those licenses, nor the Microsoft Reference License, which also restricts usage to Windows PCs.

She confirmed also that Microsoft will not make any changes to the licenses before submitting them to the OSI. The organization has approved 50 open-source licenses since being founded nine years ago, including the General Public License used by the Linux operating system, the Mozilla Public License used by the Firefox Web browser, as well as many others from non-open-source vendors, such as CA Inc., RealNetworks Inc., and Apple Inc.

Faced with pressure from the open-source community over a glut of licenses, the OSI has drastically cut down on new license approvals in the last several years.

But Tiemann promised a fair hearing for Microsoft and said that the application will be accepted or rejected based on the merits of the shared-source licenses themselves.

The process is expected to take 3-4 months. Readers who wish to read and submit comments can apply to join the OSI's License-Discuss list-serv at license-discuss-subscribe@opensource.org .

Microsoft, Licensing, Open-source certification, Policy, Shared-source licenses, Source code, Open Source Initiative, OSI, OpenSource, Open source, Microsoft News

Source:→ Computerworld