Microsoft decides 'open' is better than 'shared': What this says about OSI

Microsoft is submitting its shared-source licenses to the OSI for approval. About time. Here is clear proof that Microsoft understands the open-source community more, in some cases, that so-called open-source companies do.

Tim notes that Microsoft will be submitting its shared-source licenses to the OSI for approval. He calls this "huge, long-awaited,...and earthshaking." It's actually none of the above, but it is welcome.

It will do little to blur the "bright line between Microsoft and the open-source community," as Tim suggests it will. That bright line is increasingly drawn by Microsoft, and not by the community. This will not erase patent FUD, for example, from the collective consciousness. But I suppose it does help Microsoft to start acting like a full participant, rather than an outsider.

But this isn't the real news.

Some of Microsoft's licenses, in my personal opinion, have always been easy candidates for OSI approval. But Microsoft never asked. So it's just been a matter of when Microsoft would join the community and submit licenses to OSI like everyone else.

Tim's comments seem to reflect a belief that it's the community, not Microsoft, that has been barricading Microsoft out. The truth is mostly the opposite. Most of us would love to have Microsoft participate in open source.

The real news in this is that Microsoft recognizes what many "open source" companies apparently do not. Namely, that while others have groused about the OSI being out of touch with their efforts to dilute the value of "open source," Microsoft clearly understands the importance of the OSI. By contributing its shared-source licenses to the OSI for approval, it cements this fact and shows that it respects the community. Odd that Microsoft should grok the community so well when many so-called open-source companies clearly do not.

I welcome this move by Microsoft. It continues to impress me as being one of the few big companies that truly understands open source, even if I don't always like how it works with the open-source community. Kudos to Bill (Hilf), Sam, and team for their work to make this happen. Check out Microsoft's new open source site, too.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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