OSI gives two Microsoft licenses its blessing

Microsoft has finally engaged with open source in the correct way and was rewarded accordingly.

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) has formally approved two of Microsoft's licenses:

I never doubted that these would be approved , but am glad to see the studied manner in which the process was (mostly) carried out. To me, this shows Microsoft the correct way to engage in open source: through the front door, rather than through back-door patent FUD.

Michael Tiemann of OSI writes on the process:

The decision to approve was informed by the overwhelming (though not unanimous) consensus from the open-source community that these licenses satisfied the 10 criteria of the Open Source definition and should therefore be approved.

The formal evaluation of these licenses began in August and the discussion of these licenses was vigorous and thorough. The community raised questions that Microsoft (and others) answered; they raised issues that, when germane to the licenses in question, Microsoft addressed. Microsoft came to the OSI and submitted their licenses according to the published policies and procedures that dozens of other parties have followed over the years. Microsoft didn't ask for special treatment, and didn't receive any. In spite of recent negative interactions between Microsoft and the open source community, the spirit of the dialog was constructive and we hope that carries forward to a constructive outcome as well.

In short, Microsoft played by open source's rules on this one and so was treated as a full open-source participant. In other contexts, with different behavior, Microsoft will be treated much differently.

Let's be clear, however: this OSI certification is not a blanket certification of Microsoft or its licenses. Microsoft had two licenses approved. Its software is only open source to the extent that it licenses said software under these two licenses. The rest can be proprietary, shared source, or whatever euphemism for "closed and proprietary" that Microsoft cares to use. Only Microsoft software licensed under its Microsoft Public License or its Microsoft Reciprocal License deserves to be called "open source."

Disclosure: I am on the board of the OSI.

Tech Culture
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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