back to article Microsoft bans open source license trio from WinPhone

Some open-source apps for Windows Phone and Xbox have been banned from Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace. And there's uncertainty hanging over the rest. Apps licensed under GPLv3, Affero GPLv3, and LGPLv3 cannot be sold and distributed on the marketplace, according to Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace Application …

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Sigh

More news to gladden the hearts of Nokia employees, developers and users.

Wow, the mobile market is in a sorry state at the moment what with Apple lording it over content providers, Nokia going evil, legal threats over Android, and Microsoft living up to their reputation. I'm glad I don't depend on mobile development for a living... yet.

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RE: Julian, it could be worse, at least we had the choice

Still, android is encouraging and giving a face to open source.

It's in the best interests of everyone that it succeed as the other options are walled gardens that stifle innovation and actively fight open source.

Without open source we would be forced to pay high prices for office documents and freeware would be non-existant.

Android on the other hand can grow and expand in unexpected ways, but always in the way you choose rather than Apple or Microsoft.

I chose android because at the time there was no WP7 and apple had already been shown to use slave labour for pennies.

If i had chosen WP7 now i'd be seriously regretting it.

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Qt is GPL, banned on WP7?

...seems as the days pass Nokia have less and less to bring to the WP7 mashup!

If they'd gone with Android (or at least been platform agnostic), their Linux engineers could have kept on working to resurrect Nokia as a platform owner. Retrofitting Meego over an Android Linux system is at least possible, probably easy. Seems even building any Qt based layer cant happen with WP7 and replacing or dual booting the OS isn't an option.

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Anonymous Coward

Freeware?

"Without open source we would be forced to pay high prices for office documents and freeware would be non-existant."

Freeware existed long before FOSS, it's not the same thing, there is plenty of closed source software which is free.

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Anonymous Coward

It's a political game.

They draw a line in the sand. If no one opposes it or crosses it, then it remains. If too many people oppose it, then it will be bugged slightly, just to say "yeah, we here you and have done something about it".

MicroSoft gains nothing by supporting it, it takes money away from them and their business model.

If they were to change them, embrace it somwhow, include it in their model, change how they do business, well....

But not many will fight this, there may be a little bickering, but that's about it.

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Linux

Welcome to the world of software patents..

Can't really blame MS. Open source people are militant to a fault when it comes to their licensing and I wouldn't want to have to deal with that rubbish either being tied up in courts as some wanker decides it's his time to shine and put MS in their place..

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Happy

I down voted you for...

...that lame troll attempt

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Anonymous Coward

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

And 'closed source people' don't enforce their licenses?

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WTF?

sigh.

"Open source people are militant to a fault when it comes to their licensing"

You mean, not like those closed source people?

http://www.bsa.org/

"Welcome to the world of software patents"

What, there's some magic that ensures closed source code never infringes on patents?

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Troll

I voted it up

Because its not a troll attempt - Its a trend.

Apple got sued because someone uploaded an app using the GPL because the FSF don't like the DRM iTunes uses. The FSF has decided that the iTunes App store is out of bounds, and the Windows store isn't too different.

Is it really a "Free" as in Freedom license if someone else is hijacking your work to score points?

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"Open source people are militant to a fault..."

And the downvotes disprove this how?

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not the downvotes

Nice misdirection....

It's not a matter of disproving it, but showing it's significance - so far the militancy of the "two" licensing "camps" has not been shown to be significant.

And "down-votes" bury, not disprove - that's how it works

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Troll

Welcome indeed

Just look at how aggressively they pursue companies with their army of patent-trolling lawyers. They seem to spend all of their massive software-biz fortunes needlessly tying poor defenseless companies up in the courts. Just look at all the damage they've done to society! To capitalism! To business! To the Ah-muhrakhin way! Good job! Not only do you paint all open-source folk with the same brush, but you also made the brush up out of thin air.

Actually, can you cite a single case where a "militant open-source wanker" has brought a patent or copyright suit against a software vendor? I doubt it. I think the paint fumes have got to you sir.

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No, because I'm bad with remembering the wanker names,

but the guy who started it all, (not Linus) certainly did take a case to court and won. If he hadn't nobody would treat FOSS as legitimate. I consider him a wanker. I also consider Jobs, Ellison, Gates, and Ballmer to be wankers. Seems to go with Big IT CEO territory and yes, FOSS has their OS equivalents. All of which makes me hate the current state of US copyright law, which is the one place where all of this COULD be fixed.

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Re: Welcome indeed

<quote>Actually, can you cite a single case where a "militant open-source wanker" has brought a patent or copyright suit against a software vendor? I doubt it. I think the paint fumes have got to you sir.>/quote>

Pity you didn't read the comments posted before yours, one of which cited precisely such a case.

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Anonymous Coward

Should be interesting...

I can't wait to see how Miguel tries to spin this one as positive!

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Stop

Wording of that fragment

Means that GPLv2 and possibly even LGPL are excluded too.

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Re : wording of that fragment

"Means that GPLv2 and possibly even LGPL are excluded too."

..and MIT, BSD, Apache, Mozilla... in fact pretty much anything you want if you're allowed to redistribute the application without charge. It's not just a GPL3 thing, regardless of what the original intent was.

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Nope, mostly the virus of GPL.

It have more to do with DRM and Apache and BSD have no issues.

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sourcecode?

Thanks, I needed a good laugh this afternoon.

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Not just open source

The Microsoft Windows® Phone Marketplace Application Provider Agreement actually applies not just to open-source applications, but any applications which can be redistributed without charge - be they open source or proprietary binaries. So if you want to allow your users to, e.g. share that application directly with others without recompense, then you can't put on the marketplace. The relevant sections would seem to be 1.l.(iii) and 5.e listed below [esp. note the use of the word 'or' in 1.l.(iii)]

--

Terms and Conditions

1. Definitions.

...

l. “Excluded License” means any license requiring, as a condition of use, modification and/or distribution of the software subject to the license, that the software or other software combined and/or distributed with it be (i) disclosed or distributed in source code form; (ii) licensed for the purpose of making derivative works; or (iii) redistributable at no charge. Excluded Licenses include, but are not limited to the GPLv3 Licenses. For the purpose of this definition, “GPLv3 Licenses” means the GNU General Public License version 3, the GNU Affero General Public License version 3, the GNU Lesser General Public License version 3, and any equivalents to the foregoing.

...

5. Application Requirements.

Each Application you submit to Microsoft for distribution through the Windows Phone Marketplace must comply with the following requirements (the “Application Requirements”):

...

e. The Application must not include software, documentation, or other materials that, in whole or in part, are governed by or subject to an Excluded License, or that would otherwise cause the Application to be subject to the terms of an Excluded License.

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Anonymous Coward

Not licenses

The first paragraph of that just reinforces that this is the same action as Apple had to take with the VLC mess.

The problem doesn't seem to be the license, or that you can distribute the source, the problem is that you cannot redistribute the downloaded binary because it is DRMed, and you cannot install ("side load") anything that's not from the marketplace on WP7.

This is the same as Apple - you cannot redistribute an app once downloaded and you cannot install things you've not downloaded from the single source. On Android you can do both, hence Android is not a problem for these licenses.

I can't imagine there's anything actually stopping you from releasing your source code. After all, a number of apps on the marketplace are simply compiled versions of the same code MS have supplied freely. And don't MS have their own "open source" license?

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Re : Not licenses

"The first paragraph of that just reinforces that this is the same action as Apple had to take with the VLC mess."

Yep

"The problem doesn't seem to be the license, or that you can distribute the source, the problem is that you cannot redistribute the downloaded binary because it is DRMed, "

The agreement states that the application must be signed - whether this equates to DRM in this context I don't know. It also states (4.b)

"If you provide your own license agreement, your license must, at a minimum, (a) permit the Purchaser to download the Application on up to five (5) mobile devices associated with that Purchaser’s Windows Live ID,without payment of any additional fees to you"

..which doesn't preclude redistribution of a signed binary.

"I can't imagine there's anything actually stopping you from releasing your source code"

True - but that wouldn't necessarily be an option for a proprietary (but freely distributable) binary-only application

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Another blow to open source...

This is a shame especially just after their Nokia deal, as Nokia used to love open source, with Symbian and MeeGo, and one blog post I read from a Nokia developer was talking about how they'd much rather write closed source code for an open source platform than open source code for a closed source platform, as they'd want to promote and help the open source platform and not the closed source one.

But I really hope we get some more open source mobile OS's as the newer operating systems out there are more aimed at being simple and easy, and some technically minded people like me would prefer more options.

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Stop

You don't get it

Linux failed to make a decent phone - and I mean Linux all the way up the stack from the kernel to the GUI.

This wasn't for lack of trying: Motorola, LiMO, etc. The "Community" is still in total denial about this.

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FAIL

So that's why my n900 is crap

OH WAIT IT ISN'T

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Why not tell us the truth?

"Linux failed to make a decent phone - and I mean Linux all the way up the stack from the kernel to the GUI"

So you never used an N900. Fair enough. Why the run-around tho? Just admit you don't know shit about the topic, and lets get on with life.

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Erm, Android is Linux

The HTC Desire HD is currently considered one of the best smartphones around.

You might want to do a tiny bit of research before making such sweeping statements.

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FAIL

Way to go Nokia!

(Note the sarcasm.)

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Alternatively...

All you need to know summed up succinctly in the last paragraph prior to the closing sentence. You could move that paragraph to the top so that people know what the real deal is, but then where would be the fun in goading people who don't bother to read the whole article?

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WTF?

I don't think it's about the politics (this time).

Despite the historic battles between Microsoft and various free software camps, this particular issue doesn't seem to be politically motivated, if you look deeper.

Effectively, Microsoft has to disallow software licensed under the GPLv3, because Section 6 explicitly requires the disclosure of "any methods, procedures, authorization keys, or other information required to install and execute modified versions of a covered work in that User Product from a modified version of its Corresponding Source."

That doesn't work with an approval-based distribution model that requires digital signatures from an approving body, as the Windows Phone Marketplace does.

I've written in greater detail on the subject at http://chris.olstrom.com/opinion/windows-phone-marketplace-and-the-gplv3/ for those interested.

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Re : I don't think it's about the politics (this time)

Hi Chris,

I read your article and don't disagree with the reasoning.. however 1.l.(iii) applies (very) broadly to most of the major open source licenses and a few proprietary ones i've seen - AFAICS the wording of that section would indicate that redistribution without charge is a sufficient condition in and of itself, and is quite separate from any parts of the (L)GPLv3, such as section 6, that would cause a problem.

As stated in the agreement, the question of redistribution does not specify where that distribution takes place or how - so buying an application under a permissive license and, say, passing it on (legally) to others could be argued as constituting a redistribution, and would cause the license to classified as Excluded.

That said IANAL but i've been through enough similar legal paperwork to recognise some of the more obvious wriggle room - whether this is intentional or not (probably not in this case).

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Gates Horns

Gee.

How surprising.

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Jobs Horns

GPLv3 is about patents and DRM

The specific refeernce to GPLv3 is interesting. Two key motivations behind v3 were software patents and DRM; two topics that ought to be dear to MS's heart. Methinks that the veto is based on specific fears on one or both of these fronts. Or it may not be in response to a perceived threat, but a measure to impede adoption of GPL v3.

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Grenade

Not malicious, not political.

Microsoft cannot comply with the GPL, LGPL, or AGPL, and these terms reflect that. It has nothing to do with malicious intent, and everything to do with legality.

I'm sure Microsoft would like to have these apps in there store, but these licenses don't allow that to happen with the way their app store is at the moment. If there was a way that the store could distribute the source code, I'm sure the restrictions would vanish.

I just wish people would think before bashing away at their keyboards in a religious fervor.

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As much as I hate Msoft, I don't think they're to fault here.

Looks like Unca Bill's Piggybank is just simply trying to avoid a lawsuit from the FSF - I think its their fanatical vision of Open Source thats to blame, and their unwillingness to play nice with the things app stores need to do to attract the non-FOSS apps.

Wondering if we can really keep calling the GNU licenses "Free" as that fanatical core seems to be deciding for developers who and where they should be offering their products - hijacking the entire movement.

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What ?

>>> Wondering if we can really keep calling the GNU licenses "Free" as that fanatical core seems to be deciding for developers who and where they should be offering their products - hijacking the entire movement.

Err, how exactly is the GNU licence not "free" ? It places no obligation on anyone to use it, and it places no restrictions on your distribution of code/programs licensed with it. Absolutely no one is forcing anyone to use any form of "open" software - if you don't want to, or don't want to abide by the free licenses the software is released under then you are free to not use it. But if you want to cave cost/time by not writing it yourself (or buying it from a commercial software vendor) then the flipside to getting all this for free is that you don't then try and restrain others who might want to do the same.

This is MICROSOFT applying the restriction, not FSF - and they are doing it because these open licences work in a way that's an anathema to the likes of Apple and Microsoft. Also, be very aware that there is absolutely nothing whatsoever preventing Microsoft or Apple distributing such programs through their stores - nothing at all except that they aren't prepared to relinquish the crippleware. All they need to do is distribute such programs without the DRM* crippleware and the licensing would be no problem. They won't (note, won't, not can't) do this as it would mean their devices would have to support the running of uncrippled code - and that would mean they couldn't maintain the control they insist on having over other people's property.

If we didn't have so much software released under GPL and similar open licenses then the crippleware embedded in the iPhone/Windows Mobile systems would be considered positively free and easy compared to what we'd probably have by now.

GPL3 was specifically written to get around certain techniques being used by corporations who wanted to benefit from free software - without the pesky requirement to be open yourself. Microsoft had some deals in the offing that would have meant that only certain classes of user could run certain open software. And it's well known that TiVo complied with the letter of GPL2 but so locked down their box with DRM* that having the sourcecode wasn't sufficient to allow users to modify and run the code they used - ie they used free software to make money, but failed to reciprocate with the requirement to allow people to modify and use that software in the way they had done.

* Digital Restrictions Management. It's not about rights, it's about restrictions.

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You are 100% wrong on this point...

<i>and it places no restrictions on your distribution of code/programs licensed with it.</i>

GPL places very serious, harsh and restrictive modes to the distribution of code based on it. You are right that you are not forced to use GPL, but if you do, you sell your soul to it lock stock and barrel, and as a developer, are chained and shackled.

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I suspect

Microsoft's problem is if they distribute an app with a GPL3 type license, then effectively they are cutting off their ability to sue anybody over any code found later to exist in that app.

They will, in effect, be granting to the world a license to use any code so distributed, whether they knew it or not.

Like if somebody included the Linux kernel in such an app.

oopsie

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Not the only one

Folks, Apple did the same thing a while back. None of these large companies whose only goal is to lock people into their product lines likes anything resembling "freedom". In any shape.

All I can say is "if you don't like it, avoid them". I know I try to, as much as possible.

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Linux

Windows mob...ile

Microsoft did not like the internet and was not very good with it... until they got their hands on the BSD ip/tcp stuff.

Microsoft is not very good with mobile OS either... as shown by the struggle to stop the world progressing beyond their control... but you know what... its to late for them now as android is going to win in the end.

I do not have any mobile equipment, so there is no skin in on this one... but the outcome is predictably obvious. this is just more of what Microsoft has always done and always will until company’s and people stop paying for their survivability.

When will everybody figure out that this is one cat that cannot change its spots even though they try to be a chameleon.

Its over already... MS is done. they are just flopping on the floor of failure.

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Anonymous Coward

Ok...

MS don't use the BSD IP stack, they did in WinNT 3.11 and 3.5, this was an IP stack supplied for MS by an external company, by NT4 all the IP stack was MS code.

Mobile Device is not synonymous with Mobile phone, MS is a big player in handheld devices.

MS is the largest server software vendor in the world, it is also the largest desktop vendor in the world (albeit rather helped by the pre-installation of workstation software.) I don't see them failing at any time soon. Having said that in a couple of areas they're not doing brilliantly - IE is losing market share and WP7 is still on the way up - to where, noone yet knows.

There is a significant difference between wanting a company to fail, as you obviously do, and them actually failing. Anyway, why do you want them to fail? Why don't you want them to get better or open source their software, for instance? Do you really hate them that much that you want all their employees out of work?

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Stop

illegal business practices persist

Microsoft continues to use illegal business practices.

That is more than enough reasons for Microsoft to fail. It should fail.

And employees should leave. Unless they think that using illegal practices is what they think they need to do?

The US Appellate courts decided that commingling the OS and IE was in fact illegal. And that remains the law to this day. It is illegal for Microsoft to continue to commingle OS and IE code regardless of the purpose. Microsoft's purpose is to control and manipulate consumers and prevent them from not using Microsoft technology.

If you work for Microsoft you agree that illegal practices are your creed. Your success depends upon illegal work.

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FAIL

Why can't we have...

... an Open Source Phone OS with an Open App architecture that allows developers to freely write apps without being tied to go through the Babylonian Captivity of the OS owners' App Stores?

Perhaps there already are some?

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Apps not just through the app store

Like Android, you mean? Where you can add Android Market sources to with a simple setting, and install apps from anywhere you like with free installer tools? Would that help?

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The problem is, do developers want to live in their parents basements?

We have a few of those. And if you develop for them, you make almost no money.

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Dead Vulture

Does anyone care?

Seriously, is this going to affect anyone? You know the answer's no. Jailbreak an iPhone and use all the tools you want, from where you want. No one is impinging on your precious freedom. No self-respecting hacker would carry a MS phone anyway.

Antti:

"Or it may not be in response to a perceived threat, but a measure to impede adoption of GPL v3."

Now you're getting to the point.

The GPL is a political tool to clobber Microsoft with, it was purposefully written so.

From the Wiki:

"The license is also meant to cause Microsoft to extend the patent licenses it grants to Novell customers for the use of GPLv3 software to all users of that GPLv3 software; this is possible only if Microsoft is legally a "conveyor" of the GPLv3 software."

So Microsoft is entitled to tell the 'tards, "Thanks. But no thanks".

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Jobs Horns

Stupid sods

WP7 hasn't exactly been a great success and they want to hobble it even more. Really bright move but that's alright because the programmers will put their time into Android instead.

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Anonymous Coward

Err...

To say that WP7 is only a few months old and has had, by pretty much all accounts, a fairly impressive launch, I'd say you're getting a bit ahead of yourself.

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