back to article Microsoft welcomes OSI open source to Win8 store

Most, but not all, open-source apps are being welcomed by Microsoft into the Windows 8 Windows Store. The Store’s App Developer Agreement (here) allows developers to build their apps for download and installation on Windows 8 machines using any open-source licence as long as it has been approved by the Open-Source Initiative ( …

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Silver badge
Coat

"GPL remains out in the cold"

No, Microsoft is left out in the cold, better that way too.

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FAIL

Misleading

According to http://www.opensource.org/licenses/alphabetical , OSI-approved FOSS licences include GPL-2.0, GPL-3.0, LGPL-2.1 and LGPL-3.0, so it follows that software under these will NOT be automatically precluded as the article suggests.

“If your app includes FOSS, it must not cause any non-FOSS Microsoft software to become subject to the terms of any FOSS license” ~ is just a disclaimer-form of MS-standard FUD painting GPL as a 'viral licence' which will somehow 'infect' any other software on the same machine and render it free. Mr Clarke does not explain how this voodoo trick could actually work before jumping to the false conclusion he needs to support that clickbait subtitle.

Hence, Adblock ~ pour encourager les autres ...

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Silver badge

An important question

Will this Windows store be the one and only way of loading software onto non x86 Windows devices?

If a device is running ARM there is no legacy software to care about so technically there is no reason to let people install software from random websites. Instead Microsoft could insist everything is installed through their store "for our protection", when in reality it is to monopolize a platform which used to be open but isn't any more.

I could see the same happening to OS X too if / when Apple decide to produce an ARM version.

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JDX
Gold badge

GPL

Presumably their hands are tied with GPL... hence why it's not so popular.

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Silver badge

Not so

GPLv3 has been out for a while now. They could have engineered their store to cope with it. The principle requirement is that if you DRM protect a GPL application that you provide the key used to encrypt / sign the work. There is nothing to say that the key they choose to do this has to be the same as the key used to encrypt non-GPL works.

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Silver badge
Pint

Not MS's fault

I like bashing on MS as much as the next, but the GPL is the least friendly to other licenses. The reality is that MS, as the operator of the store, could be considered the distributor. As such, they are unwilling to put themselves under the requirements the GPL creates for redistribution. Given the same position, I would make the same choice.

I'll raise a glass to them for properly making sure they can distribute under the license before they do.

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Anonymous Coward

Not MS's fault?

How? Are we talking GPL2 or GPL3?

Apart from hosting the source code files along with the binaries and including a GPL 2 license instead of whatever MS normally use, what additional problems does the GPL license bring that a BSD or Apache license would not?

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Anonymous Coward

@Oninoshiko - Either the first or the last paragraph of your post

is not true (I'm too polite to call it an outright lie).

The only requirements GPL will put is to prevent MS from adding restrictions to that software while distributing it. I quite don't get what are you praising Microsoft for.

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Thumb Down

Who wants Windows 8 anyway?

The period of PCs getting ever faster and cheaper is over. Have you seen what has happened to hard disk prices recently?

The thing to do now is make the most of the PCs we already have, and the way to do that is to delete the Windows and give them a new lease of life with Linux. The you get to choose from ALL the free software, not just a subset that people have been motivated to port to Windows. Remember way back it was Microsoft that paid the bill to ActiveState for getting the Perl language ported to Windows so NT admins had a language that did not completely suck!

The laptop I am typing this on was originally blighted with Vista. Even though it is now more than 4 years old it is still a great machine to run Linux on.

We just need to fight ignorance and vested interests. That seems to suddenly be en-vogue :)

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Have you seen whats happend to the manufacturing plants lately?

Natural disasters have cause significant damage in Asia in the last year. This is affecting manufacturing capacity. And if it isn't; it makes for a plausible excuse.

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DN4
Flame

Letters, digits and GPL

How in hell can your app or any thing included with it cause any non-FOSS Microsoft software to become subject to the terms of any FOSS license?

Either that other software already was the subject of the license (because of linking, code reuse, etc.) or not. Installing something cannot change it.

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Vic
Silver badge

Oh dear.

> 'FOSS' means any software licensed under an Open Source Initiative Approved License.”

The list of licences approved by the Open Source Initiative are at http://www.opensource.org/licenses/alphabetical . It's probably worth reading that list before writing too much on the subject.

> The invitation does not extend to GPL.

If you look at the URL I posted above, you'll see that the GPL *is* on the list. GPLv2 and GPLv3 are explicitly listed, along with AGPLv3, LGPLv2.1 and LGPLv3.

> “If your app includes FOSS, it must not cause any non-FOSS Microsoft

> software to become subject to the terms of any FOSS license.”

That's perfectly reasonable; Microsoft doesn't want their code to become FOSS, so they are prohibiting developers from posting any derivatives that would cause it to become so.

> Although Microsoft didn't name it, it's talking about GPL.

Maybe, maybe not[1]. But it's not the assault on the GPL that this article claims; it's merely a reminder to developers that attempting to make a derivative of Microsoft code that ends up under a FOSS licence would be a breach of Microsoft's licence, and is therefore not permitted.

What they do *not* say - deliberately, and I hope this remains the case - is that GPL code is not welcome. GPL code is just fine - just so long as it doesn't also derive from Microsoft code in a manner incompatible with the licence. And that's a good thing.

Vic.

[1] I suspect they're most worried about the AGPL.

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It's irrelevant whether you think the GPL would or wouldn't cause existing Microsoft code to fall under the GPL, since there mere requirement that you add that additional constraint on what the code could do automatically makes it incompatible with the GPL. You could write a GPL-like license (even by just modifying the existing GPL text) which did allow that, but it would then not be GPL compatible itself.

Which is no bad thing really, because the GPL is a horribly broken license and we'd all be a lot better off if good code wasn't being poisened by it.

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Vic
Silver badge

> It's irrelevant whether you think the GPL would or wouldn't cause existing

> Microsoft code to fall under the GPL

I have no idea what you're talking about.

Microsoft aren't saying they won't accept GPL software, they're just saying that they don't want any of *their* code becoming FOSS. Any developer linking their code in any way that creates FOSS code out of it is breaching their licence. That's all they're saying.

What I think about the GPL[1] is neither here nor there.

> GPL is a horribly broken license

No it isn't.

> we'd all be a lot better off if good code wasn't being poisened by it.

GPL doesn't poison anything. It grants you freedoms you otherwise wouldn't have. If you don't want those freedoms - you're not obliged to take advantage of them.

Vic.

[1] I'm sure pretty much everyone here knows I'm a GPL proponent.

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Anonymous Coward

@El Andy - As far as I know GPL is the only license

that protects end-users as well as developers freedoms so in what sense do you feel it is broken ? Second question, would it be another license better than GPL at doing these things ? From what point of view are you seeing things, corporate, developer or end-user ?

Come on, educate us!

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Childcatcher

@Vic: The GPL doesn't allow you to add usage constraints to code, the Metro store requires that any FOSS code carries the mandate that Microsoft owned code won't fall under that license. The two things are fundamentally incompatible, regardless of any argument over whether or not an app released contains any Microsoft code or not.

@AC: I could write a book on the flaws in the GPL and most of them are widely known, even if often brushed under the carpet by GPL advocates. You can't sell GPL applications (well you can, but effectively only a single copy since you are then obliged to give anyone else who requests it a copy free of charge), it is contradictory and, for a license that claims to protect "freedom", is actually one of the most restrictive licenses in existence. There are lots of licenses that are claimed to be "GPL compatible", but in effect that just means they allow their generally permissive license terms to be overruled by the restrictions of the GPL.

It's bad for developers, which makes it bad for end-users (whether corporate or non-corporate) and it pushes code into a situation that is very difficult (if not impossible) to get out of unless strict ownership transfer of submissions is carefully managed from day 1 (and it rarely is). On top of all that it's very badly misrepresented in the community (even the official FAQ page is wrong on several points) and that leads to developers often selecting it as the de-facto FOSS license without realising the issues it causes (I recently saw someone about to release a commercial product and planning to offer a GPL licensed version for "non-commercial use", for example, despite the fact the GPL does not allow you to constrain use in that way)

There are a great many OSI licenses that are substantially better for end users and developers planning on releasing FOSS code should really consider looking through those carefully to find one that suits all the needs of them and their users rather than just jumping on the GPL.

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"@Vic: The GPL doesn't allow you to add usage constraints to code, the Metro store requires that any FOSS code carries the mandate that Microsoft owned code won't fall under that license. The two things are fundamentally incompatible, regardless of any argument over whether or not an app released contains any Microsoft code or not."

@El Andy - MS stipulation DOES NOT attempt to add clauses to the licence, nor does ask the publisher/developer to do so, nor does MS stipulation in anyway constrain how the application can used.

"I recently saw someone about to release a commercial product and planning to offer a GPL licensed version for "non-commercial use""

That says way more about the intelegence of the person that wanted to do that, than it says anything at all about the GPL.

Th faults as you state them, are in fact the specific aims of the GPL.

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Vic
Silver badge

> The GPL doesn't allow you to add usage constraints to code

Correct.

> the Metro store requires that any FOSS code carries the mandate that

> Microsoft owned code won't fall under that license.

No. The store requires that any code submitted to it does not cause non-FOSS Microsoft to become covered by a FOSS licence. This is a restriction relating solely to code copyrighted by Microsoft that is not already FOSS, and therefore has no ramifications *whatsoever* for any FOSS code.

> The two things are fundamentally incompatible,

Nonsense.

The store can carry FOSS code that is not licenced by Microsoft (or is already licenced as FOSS).

The store can also contain Microsoft code that is not FOSS.

The only thing it cannot/will not carry is Microsoft non-FOSS code that someone has tried to put under a FOSS licence. This is contrary both to Microsoft's licence and also to the GPL, if that is the FOSS licence in question.

And that is all we have here; Microsoft is being very clear that it will not tolerate someone trying to put an app into this store that breaks its licence. It is making no restrictions about purely GPLed code, because that does not contain any non-FOSS Microsoft code.

> I could write a book on the flaws in the GPL

No you couldn't. You could write a book on your inadequate understanding of the GPL, but your claims above indicate that you really don't know much about it.

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

@El Andy - Again me, the AC

I understood from your first post that you feel GPL is broken and I wanted you to show us why which you still didn't.

The only restriction the GPL imposes is that you (or anybody for that matter) are expressly not permitted to impose restrictions on the software you received for free. If you are the original author of that software and you want to impose restrictions, a huge amount of alternate licenses allow you to do just that. Why would you still insist on GPL in this case ?

I'm not interested to know there GPL compatible licenses, I just wanted to know what other license would you recommend us that will guarantee end-user fundamental digital freedoms.

I was expecting more detail from you regarding the way granting and guaranteeing fundamental digital freedoms to end-users is bad for them. Maybe because it doesn't allow you to control them ?

Your example about that someone who deliberately wanted to break GPL in order to impose restrictions on end-user doesn't make any sense. He could just distribute his software as plain freeware so insisting on using GPL just proves bad faith. GPL has a list of what you are allowed to do and what not and the fact that it didn't worked for him is not GPL fault. You don't get to chose and pick only what you like from a license, be it GPL or MS proprietary EULA.

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What they're worried about in this case is probably that Microsoft could be seen (depending on a court's interpretation) to be the distributor the app. If that app then includes some GPL code along with some close-source bits of Microsoft runtime, then a court could conclude that Microsoft has violated the GPL, and require that the source to the runtime be distributed as well.

I doubt this is really an issue, but lawyers get paid big bucks to think of every possible way their customers might be screwed.

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Vic
Silver badge

> What they're worried about in this case is probably that Microsoft could be seen ... to

> be the distributor the app.

As te entity doing the distribution, they would rightly be seen as such.

> If that app then includes some GPL code along with some close-source bits of Microsoft runtime

... Then whoever put the app together in the first place has already breached at least two licences.

I think it is appropriate for MS to say that any software distributed by this method must be lawful. I think it entirely inappropriate that commentators are claiming they won't accept GPL code when they very clearly will - just so long as it is lawfully-created.

Vic.

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FAIL

So, business as usual?

FOSS only as long as they can gain without paying back to the community?

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So, you think that every developer should always work for free and never charge for their work?

That's essentially the alternative. The only way to make any money out of GPL software (i.e. to pay the bills) is to charge for support. The number of companies who've successfully done so for a while is actually surprisingly small.

And for anyone who doesn't realise the problem, you can charge for GPL software quite happily. Except you cannot prevent anyone distributing it once they've obtained it. Thus it only really requires one person to purchase it and it's then out there for free.

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Anonymous Coward

@Pete Spicer - No, only those developers who chose to work for free

and who deliberately chose GPL.

As for the problem you've discovered with FOSS, GPL is not to prevent developers from getting paid, it's for preventing them to be enslaved as well as to prevent them from enslaving the end-user. If you don't like this, you are free to chose any proprietary license you may think of.

Please spare us from your FUD. GPL is not forcing you or anyone else to do anything.

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Stop

"So, you think that every developer should always work for free and never charge for their work?"

No. And I never said that, and that isn't imposed by the GPL. What the GPL imposes, and that MSFT and some of the posters here don't like, is that if you take others people code, you have to "pay" for it. Unlike BSD and other "permissive" licenses, which allow a big company to just use your work for free (like MSFT did with the TCP stack in windows), GPL forces the companies to pay back, giving the improvements back to the community.

If you don't like the GPL, don't use it for your code, aand don't use GPL code. But stop spreading FUD about poor starving developers, when the main point is that GPL forces companies to obey obligations for the usage of the code.

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Actually, if you care to examine the GPL, while it's not imposed - it's actually fairly heavily implied.

People all around the world write FOSS code. I do it too, sometimes, though of recent times I've deliberately put a non FOSS, but custom freeware licence on my work to prevent certain ne'er-do-wells using my work.

Here's the thing. I'm in the position I can produce stuff for free and give it away. Many others cannot. If I were working as a paid developer, I don't see how I'd be able to use the GPL, and this is the problem with it.

The GPL only works in the ideal world, where people can create code without financial recompense from their work. Because you can't charge for GPL stuff, you just can't. The licence explicitly demands that anyone who makes use of your work and then distributes it themselves (be it as a library or something else), has to release the work under the same terms and freedoms.

The best example I have of this is MySQL, actually. MySQL's a GPL product. You want to build something based on MySQL and sell it? Well... you can use the GPL version and sell support, or you can pay the licence fee to get a non GPL version. That's the part most people seem to conveniently omit.

Now, you're mentioning that fact but you're glossing over the fact that it's inherently a *dual licensed* piece of work at that point. It's not GPL at that point, by definition, or least the use the company gets out of it isn't GPL'd at that point.

Anyway, I think you're still missing the point. The reason why GPL is noticeably absent from the store is the requirement that it would actually make the store hard to enforce (and I note that Apple has similar restrictions actually)

There is, noted, an exception in the GPL for system software, in that you can link to system software that is not GPL in GPL software and that's allowed. But you can't use it to link to non-GPL components without the combined work as a result being GPL. Which does put a dampener on anyone using various paid frameworks to release GPL software.

It's actually easier for them to simply deny GPL software and avoid the inevitable fallout that will go with it because as distributor, if a piece of software is found to have GPL code that isn't being used correctly, they're the ones who will ultimately be immediately (if not finally) liable.

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Vic
Silver badge

> Because you can't charge for GPL stuff, you just can't.

Have you told Red Hat about this?

They appear to be under the impression that you *can* charge for GPL software. But now you've said that they can't, I'm sure they'll shut down their operations and refund everyone that's paid them any money.

Vic.

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FSF says you CAN charge for GPLed work

>The GPL only works in the ideal world, where people can create code without financial >recompense from their work. Because you can't charge for GPL stuff, you just can't.

Lots of clueless things written about the GPL in one post but that one takes the cake.

You CAN charge for GPLed software. Heck, the FSF has a whole section called Selling Free Software.

Dont forget the free is for libre not gratis.

It can be free-libre without being free-gratis.

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What's up?

An article that mentions Microsoft and Open Source in the same headline, and nobody has commented on it after 8 hours?

(Or has the moderator just filtered out the typical, and utterly predictable, anti-Microsoft spew from people who either haven't actually read the article, or haven't understood it because it doesn't conform to their biases? Pity they couldn't moderate out the bias in the article itself, but then it wouldn't be El Reg, would it?)

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Facepalm

Bias much?

"Microsoft, though, has assiduously avoided actually shipping open-source software with its own products, in case this left it open up some kind of legal or IP liability."

Nonsense, Microsoft have shipped large amounts of open-source software, both seperately as a part of paid for applications. They've even shipped GPL code in the past (see Services for Unix), but let's not let facts get in the way of bashing them, eh?

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Anonymous Coward

Well, well!

Microsoft has just discovered there is a difference between OSS and FOSS.

Who would have thought that!

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft Can Remotely Kill Purchased Apps

Of course GPL will not allow them to do that.

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WinXP was the last Microsoft operating system to run on any computers which I personally own.

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Silver badge
Facepalm

So this article is FUD

How could any software under any license make any other software change its license?

You would somehow have to have a non-free piece of software dynamicaly linking to unknown and arbitrary libraries. Then you would have to get it to link with your library in a way which violates the GPL... That seems unlikely.

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Not entirely true...

Some of the original "open source" was the BSD distribution from UC Berkeley. It can be proven that MS incorporated the BSD TCP/IP stack into early versions of Windows that came with IP support as they are bug compatible (i.e. the same bugs in the BSD stack exist in the MS stack). So there are (or were) definitely bits of open source software in various versions of Windows.

Be kind of interesting, now I think about it, to find out if/how MS got around the attribution clauses in the 4.3 BSD release.

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Vic
Silver badge

> So there are (or were) definitely bits of open source software in various versions of Windows.

That's a bit of a philosophical point...

The BSD licences permit a redistributor to ship binaries without source. You can take a piece of BSD code (given to you either as source or object), and close the source.

So can we still call the BSD code shipped with Windows "open source"?

Vic.

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Bronze badge

They didn't get around it, they openly admitted it. From what I recall, they included proper attribution in Readmes on the install disks for Win 3.11, 95 and 98 and presumably all other versions that used the BSD TCP/IP stack.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Microsoft has assiduously avoided shipping open-source software with its own products

What a load of bollocks. Here is a list of real open source included in Windows:

BSD sockets

ftp, telnet, several other command line networking tools

IE <= 6 contained parts of Mosaic, which is almost open source

+ others

What you meant to say is that they don't include any GPL code.

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