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Microsoft Treating "Windows-Only" As Open Source 383

mjasay writes "The Register is reporting that Microsoft is hosting Windows-only projects on its 'open source project hosting site,' CodePlex. Miguel de Icaza caught and criticized Microsoft for doing this with its Microsoft Extensibility Framework (MEF), licensing it under the Microsoft Limited Permissive License (Ms-LPL), which restricts use of the code to Windows. Microsoft has changed the license for MEF to an OSI-approved license, the Microsoft Public License, but it continues to host a range of other projects under the Ms-LPL. If CodePlex wasn't an 'open source project hosting site,' this wouldn't be a problem. But when Microsoft invokes the 'open source' label, it has a duty to live up to associated expectations and ensure that the code it releases on CodePlex is actually open source. If it doesn't want to do this — if it doesn't want to abide by this most basic principle of open source — then call CodePlex something else and we'll all move on."
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Microsoft Treating "Windows-Only" As Open Source

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  • by MindlessAutomata ( 1282944 ) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @12:25PM (#25256331)

    This is most likely a tactic to try to get people to associate "open source" with Microsoft and not Linux.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rockoon ( 1252108 )
      "...invokes the 'open source' label"

      Who owns this label?
      • by domatic ( 1128127 ) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @12:34PM (#25256387)

        It is not a matter of ownership. Words have a particular meaning and this is a case of MS trying to throw its weight around to change the popular understanding of the meaning of "Open Source" to something that is favorable for them. Last time I checked, "Open Source" does NOT mean "something that is only legal to use on Windows".

        • by lastchance_000 ( 847415 ) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @12:39PM (#25256411)

          Or Linux-only, or Mac-only, or Plan9-only. The point is that if someone wants to modify the code so it runs on an Atari 800, they're legally free to do so. Publishing the code, and saying, "You may do this, only, and no more", is certainly within their rights, but it ain't open.

          • "Publishing the code, and saying, "You may do this, only, and no more", is certainly within their rights, but it ain't open."

            Licenses by definition aren't open and they most certainly serve an end. All the OSI approved licenses restrict what I can do in one way or the other. Otherwise everything would be public domain which is as free as this world can offer.

            • by EvilRyry ( 1025309 ) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @01:25PM (#25256727) Journal

              The big difference in this case is that it affects how you *use* the software.

              Many OSI approved licenses affect how you may redistribute the software, but none of them AFAIK limit how you may use or alter it.

            • by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @01:36PM (#25256781) Homepage

              technically you are right about what licenses are. but what open source licenses all have in common is that they aim to make the software source code the most freely available to others, thus maximizing its utility, with the minimal licensing restrictions to achieve this goal.

              Microsoft's use of "open source" not only goes against the spirit of FOSS, but also violates the basic definition of "Open Source" [] used by the OSI:

              5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups - The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

              6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor - The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.

              8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product - The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program's being part of a particular software distribution. If the program is extracted from that distribution and used or distributed within the terms of the program's license, all parties to whom the program is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original software distribution.

              9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software - The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.

              in the end, what "open source" means is defined by the community. it is what the community finds acceptable and conducive to the goals of the Open Source movement. if they decide that they are willing to accept Microsoft's definition of "open source" then the Ms-LPL can be called a genuinely open source license. however, that would require changing the current accepted definition of open source. but not only would that require arriving at a new consensus, but it would likely destroy the open source movement by undermining its original aim of fostering open collaboration and combat the increasingly restrictive IP laws and cultural attitudes.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software - The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.

                Would you happen to know why this point was worded to be specific to other software, instead of applying to anything that might accompany the licensed software? I can say "this sofware may not be distributed with fur coats", and as far as I can see that's be perfectly OK.

                • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Saturday October 04, 2008 @02:08PM (#25256961) Homepage Journal
                  Number 6, about fields of endeavor, covers restrictions on distribution with fur coats.

                  The OSD is related to what people had tried to do with licenses at the time. For example, there was Alladin Ghostscript, which prohibited its distribution on the same medium with software that wasn't freely distributable. And there was the Berkeley Spice License, for their electrical engineering software, which prohibited the use of the software by the Police of South Africa, and still did a decade after apartheid was over.

                  I was trying to define what was Free Software for Debian's social contract. FSF didn't promote a definition of Free Software at the time, although they'd published one in their newsletter a long time before. RMS even said in a personal email that he liked my definition.

                  Then 7 or 8 months after this was all written and in use by Debian, Eric Raymond brought me the news of the meeting where a bunch of people had decided to promote Free Software as Open Source, and asked me to work on that. So, I filed off the Debian references and it became the Open Source Definition, and I announced Open Source to the world, including here on Slashdot (and that announcement still survives online today). That announcement was the first real use of "Open Source" to the public.


            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by node 3 ( 115640 )

              Licenses by definition aren't open and they most certainly serve an end. All the OSI approved licenses restrict what I can do in one way or the other. Otherwise everything would be public domain which is as free as this world can offer.

              They only restrict your ability to *close* the software (and some don't even do that).

              So, no, you're absolutely wrong. Open Source Licenses don't limit rights by their nature of being a license. Those that do, do so only to promote openness. The rest (like the BSD license) exist not to create restrictions (even positive ones), but are required because the way copyright works, it's pretty much required.

              Public Domain doesn't mean "free to do with as you please". It's mildly ironic, but in order for something

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Publishing the code, and saying, "You may do this, only, and no more", is certainly within their rights, but it ain't open.

            I find that statement to be slightly ironic, since it's exactly how the GPL works, and most people consider that open.

            'Course, now I'm the one playing word games, since the GPL is arguably restricting what you can do to keep openness, but still, the point is that almost all open source licenses place some form of restriction on what you can do with the code.

            The difference between truly open and closed depend on what those restrictions are.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        OSI? []

        • by ConanG ( 699649 )
          Why don't they trademark it? They think they own it? Let them!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by perlchild ( 582235 )

        A case could be made that it's a trademark of the opensource initiative, and/or software in the public interest...

        That Microsoft got their Microsoft Public License accepted by the OSI as an open-source license certainly indicates they know who defined the term... Then they go back and misuse it...

        • Yea but can you really trademark such a term at this point? The use of the phrase open source is so widespread now i think they've lost control of whatever power they had over its use, unless they'd like to argue over the use of capitalization Open Source vs open source.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mysidia ( 191772 )

        It used to be registered as a service mark of the Open Source Initiative [].

        However, I believe the trademark registration was allowed to lapse in 1999. It is a shame, because this is the type of confusion that the trademark and trademark law should have prevented.

    • I think mostly they'd like to dilute "Open Source" to mean any code with source code. This is important to them because it's the rights connected to Open Source that scare Microsoft (and others). If you can call it Open Source when there isn't even the right to compile the code, or to use the information you get from reading it, customers don't have a reason to ask for it any longer.

      Their publicity agencies are here on Slashdot pumping that angle every day.


      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Paranoia much? They call it open source, not Open Source like you do. Stop getting confused and trying to confuse both the terms.
    • by sohp ( 22984 )

      Also to muddle the meaning of "open source" to the point where people start to believe it means what Microsoft says it means.

  • Nothing new here. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 ) <> on Saturday October 04, 2008 @12:26PM (#25256337)
    Honestly, I don't see anything new here. This is just yet another example of Microsoft attempting to muddy the waters. It's classical embrace and extend.
  • Microsoft doesn't really understand the idea of 'open source'... It seems to believe that if the source is out in the open in a certain manner, so to speak, it's 'open source', and it believes there could be restrictions placed on top of it despite what the name implies.

    Maybe they're thinking along the lines of the 'open door policy' that some managers use as a means of 'communication with employees'. I mean, it's 'open', after all... right? He might throw a chair at you, but you're welcome to step in?
  • ...from MS that a website dedicated to it is warranted and worth linking to from everywhere.

  • If someone can take the code, port it to other platforms, and distribute it, then it's still open source. They can refuse to accept patches porting it to other platforms, and it's still open source. Their hosting provider can even deny them free hosting if they accept patches for supporting other operating systems.

    Just because you host open source, doesn't mean you can't add extra constraints. Google Code limits the licenses you can use, and used to not allow the Mozilla Public License.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BorgDrone ( 64343 )

      If someone can take the code, port it to other platforms, and distribute it, then it's still open source.

      That's the whole point, you're not allowed to do that.

    • And to add to that, there are plenty of open source projects on Freshmeat that only run on linux/BSD, or even SourceForge for that matter (which also hosts Windows-only open source projects). "Open source" is that the source is made available. Various open source licenses generally allow for edits to the code but as the parent points out, those patches don't have to be accepted. Does the linux kernel take every patch? Hardly.

  • Open source does not mean open platform, case closed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 )

      No, "open source" means no license restrictions on what you do with the code. If the license forbids you to run the code on another OS, or another pieces of hardware, it is not open. Neither is it open if you prevent the use of the code for a particular purpose. If you want to use the code to tabulate a list of people who you intend to round up, incarcerate, and incinerate, people will deplore your morals, but the OSS movement in principle defend your right to use open source code to do it (but does not all

      • No, "open source" means no license restrictions on what you do with the code.

        FSF disagrees, see the anti-Tivo section in the new GPL.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by moosesocks ( 264553 )

        No, damnit.

        Open source means that the source is open. That's it.

        You could hypothetically define "Open Source" (with capitals) however you see fit, or be a lot more specific and refer to GPL, BSD, Creative Commons, etc.

        However, in this case "open source" is very simply referring to software that has its source code openly available. You cannot simply redefine the meaning of already-existing words, especially when you're not using them as a proper noun. There is absolutely no debate to be had here.

        Also, wh

        • Meaning of words (Score:3, Insightful)

          by vlad_petric ( 94134 )

          'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

          'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

          'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gewalt ( 1200451 )

        No, "open source" means no license restrictions on what you do with the code.M

        Every single "open source" license out there completely contradicts your statement.

  • by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @12:51PM (#25256485)
    This is classic Register bs. From the codeplex site:

    About CodePlex CodePlex is Microsoft's open source project hosting web site. Start a new project, join an existing one, or download software created by the community. More About CodePlex... Microsoft does not control, review, revise, endorse or distribute the third party projects on this site. Microsoft is hosting the CodePlex site solely as a web storage site as a service to the developer community.

    In other words, developers can -gasp- choose the license they want. And they do, including MS. Also, it has nothing to do with the OSI since MS explicitly mentions it's 'open source' and not 'Open Source'(which seems to be hijacked by the OSI as a trademark?). open source != free(as in freedom) software.

  • From the Microsoft playbook circa 1995:,_extend_and_extinguish []

    "Embrace, extend and extinguish," also known as "Embrace, extend, and exterminate," is a phrase that the U.S. Department of Justice alleged was used internally by Microsoft to describe their strategy for entering product categories involving widely used standards, extending those standards with proprietary capabilities, and then using those differences to disadvantage its competitors.

  • Bad summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Joe Jay Bee ( 1151309 ) <> on Saturday October 04, 2008 @01:00PM (#25256535)

    From the article:

    While the CodePlex site does not mandate the license for projects, you are told to pick your own license with CodePlex directing you to the open-source license page of Wikipedia for more information. CodePlex is home to projects under a range of licenses recognized by the OSI, such as Apache 2.0, and open-source-like custom licenses not officially recognized. ®

    Honestly, please read more than a paragraph or two of the article before submitting it to Slashdot. You can submit any code under any licence you like to CodePlex, and indeed encourages you to do so. Where's the problem here, exactly? That "open source" means different things to Microsoft than it does to some other people? That term means many things to many people, from the idea of being able to view the source of software but do little else with it, to the BSD/public domain-ish idea of all code being available for modification under virtually any terms. That's all this is. Nothing to see here, move along.

  • Codeplex is a joke (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <<spydermann.slashdot> <at> <>> on Saturday October 04, 2008 @01:13PM (#25256631) Homepage Journal

    What is Codeplex really about? It's a cheap form of recruiting developers to keep supporting the Windows platform by building better programs... as long as Microsoft gets a profit from it.

    This is why using the GPLv3 is forbidden in Codeplex [].

  • ..but just because a program is open source does not mean it needs to be portable. Most open source projects are, but it's not a definitional requirement. I don't like the license scheme or the way MS handles this, but as long as the source code is given, it's technically "open source"
  • Perhaps this is an attempt to trick developers not paying close attention into download some Ms-LPL source and include it in their project. Later, when some code snippets show up ported to another platform, Microsoft can cry foul.

    Many years ago, our legal department advised us _not_ to touch Microsoft tools, products, or platforms. Or some tangled web of licensing restrictions could come back to bite us.

  • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @02:11PM (#25256997) Homepage

    This is, unfortunately, a prelude or realization that Microsoft can embrace/extend/extinguish the _meaning of the phrase_ "open source" just as well as it can anything else.

    Sadly, the exact same thing happened to all the "organic farmers". Big companies started slapping "organic" on all their products because it would sell, irrespective of any meaning behind the words.

    The only defense would have been to trademark "organic" / "open source" and have it be held by some public committee, but it's too late now.

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @07:25PM (#25259683)

    come on, are people really surprised that Microsoft is not only taking MS .Net to the world of Windows-only but also making sure anyone who uses their sites/services are Windows-only partners too?

    Get real folks. With out a monopoly hold on the pre-load computer market, Microsoft would be dead meat. They know they need to make sure their customers do not have a choice to try another OS because they will not put their software on another OS. Remember, without Windows they are dead meat. Outside of one package, MS Office for Mac, they have never put their software on another OS with the intention of making a business profit from it. They put Internet Explorer on Solaris to kill off all the Win32-UNIX licensees and keep anti-trust judges from nailing them for it. When Palm had 80% marketshare and WinCE was less than 5% IBM, Sybase, and other dbase vendors released lite versions for the PalmOS. Microsoft released MS Access-lite for WindowsCE.

    Miguel is an idiot for kissing Microsoft's ass every time they expose it to him. MS .Net was created to stop Java from taking Microsoft developers over to a cross platform API and software stack plain and simple. Anything "open" about it is a trick/game/hoax/etc because they own the spec.

    Microsoft's business is to own/control all software development and make sure it is all done on Windows. This is a fact. Everything they do must first protect the Windows marketshare. This is reality. Open source is a threat to Microsoft when it runs on anything other than or along with Windows. Another fact. So cry all you want Miguel, you're an idiot for following Microsoft and playing the Pied Piper to those too naive to understand. IMO.


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