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Microsoft Your Rights Online

A Slightly-Softer Microsoft Shared Source License 359

Posted by timothy
from the just-initial-here-and-here-and-here-and-here dept.
RadBlock writes "Microsoft Watch has a story on a recent change in Microsoft's shared-source licensing... I guess the main difference is that programmers do not have to send back any changes made to the source code. But they can't combine any of the Microsoft code with other software. Here's the full text of their new license agreement." The article claims that Microsoft is "inching closer -- at least in spirit -- to the GNU GPL" with these license tweaks, but it doesn't look that way to me.
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A Slightly-Softer Microsoft Shared Source License

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  • Inching closer? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slimer (6604) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:39AM (#5542205)
    What is an inch, when you are light years apart?

    • Well, it's about 11.803 pico-seconds per light year.

      Oh, maybe I missed your point.

      ---------

    • Re:Inching closer? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jkrise (535370)
      Actually MS may be moving RAPIDLY towards GPL. They see it as a huge threat to their continued success.

      So, it's right to say they're moving closer. In the same way Dubya's moving closer to Iraq.
    • Re:Inching closer? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by munter (619803) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @02:07AM (#5542523)
      I agree.

      The thing is...How many years will it take for the average Microsoft sales/support guy (i.e. people on the ground) to adopt GPL/OpenSource Culture? - Never.

      I think that that is what is really important. Culture, Attitude.etc. Sure licensing issues are a big deal. But what it's really about is changing the way the industry works, and a philosophical thing. "..It belongs to no-one,anyone can improve it, everyone can use it .." - This is fundamentally not what Microsoft is about.

      The way I see it is that everything happens in a cycle. We've had a certain kind of methodology for a couple of decades. It's simply natural for things to change, tables to turn etc. It is simply time for a change.

      Perhaps it's time for wealth distribution as wel...

    • Re:Inching closer? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dicka_j (544356)
      a thousand mile journey begins with a single step...
  • by wuchang (524603) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:41AM (#5542216)
    Modifying code without having to give it back seems more like a move sideways in relation to GPL and a move towards the BSD license.
    • Not at all. One of the freedoms the GPL grants is if you modify software you don't have to give anyone those changes. You are not forced to distribute Free Software. If you do give it out it must be GPL and the source must be included. You can read the
      The modern BSD license is oftern called public domain with credit. BSD code may be redistributed under any license as long as credit is given to the developers.
      The original apple license required modifications to be submitted to apple. The Apple public license was not an approved as a open source license until this clause was removed. Free Software is about freedom. It attempts to mamimize freedom with a philisophy of "you freedom to punch me in the face ends where my face begins." Forceing submission of changes takes away freedom.
  • BSD? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dolson (634094)
    They've claimed that they like BSD, just not Linux's GPL... Soooo... why don't they just use the BSD License?

    Oh, because it would be detrimental to their business.

    This is really stupid, and their ways are going to fool people - and they already have. It's too bad that we don't really have any powerful marketing pusher for Linux that can expose the truth... Oh well. Some day.
    • Re:BSD? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by GammaTau (636807)

      They've claimed that they like BSD, just not Linux's GPL... Soooo... why don't they just use the BSD License?

      It seems to me that the new shared source code license is a viral license. At least I can't think of any other way to interpret the third condition.

      3. That if you distribute the Software in source code form you do so only under this license (i.e. you must include a complete copy of this license with your distribution), and if you distribute the Software solely in object form you only do so un

  • by mz001b (122709) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:42AM (#5542224)
    So if you are a ``shared source'' licensee, do you get all the source for whatever app you are playing with? That is, can you compile it into the same application that you buy shrinkwrapped at Best Buy? Or do they leave some things out?
    • I belive India confronted this issue directly. They asked not only for the source of a given application, but also for the source of all the libraries it used, and the source of the compiler, and the source of any libraries the compiler used.

      They then wanted to do exactly this- compile it into a final product.

      I don't know what Microsoft's reaction was to this.

      - Serge Wroclawski
  • Microsoft? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by m0rph3us0 (549631) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:42AM (#5542227)
    Is it just me or should a license from MS probably have a URL associated with it pointing it to MS.

    This EULA doesn't sound like legalease. I really doubt this is a MS license. I've tried to find a shared source ASP.NET distro to verify but to no avail.

    Can anyone vouch for this being authentic?
  • by philovivero (321158) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:43AM (#5542231) Homepage Journal
    Much the same way as the amoeba is one step closer to mankind than a virus.
    • Much the same way as the amoeba is one step closer to mankind than a virus.

      Speaking of a virus, I'm surprised no M$ lackeyes have spouted off about the GPL being viral.

      I bring this up because the MS office document formats are one of the most viral entities in the computing industry. Try and switch to another office suite - go ahead! - but your friends and their friends will keep sending you the proprietary MS Office documents which you need MS Office for to edit/print with absolute reliability. The mo
      • Methinks it might just be possible that you don't understand what "viral" means in this context.

        The Microsoft Office document formats are not viral, because they affect nothing other than themselves. If you install Microsoft Word on your computer, all of your SurfWriter documents remain in SurfWriter format; nothing changes.

        The GPL, on the other hand, spreads. If you link GPL-licensed code in with your project, poof! Your project is now GPL-licensed as well, for better or for worse. Some people will argue
        • by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:43AM (#5542443)

          The Microsoft Office document formats are not viral, because they affect nothing other than themselves. If you install Microsoft Word on your computer, all of your SurfWriter documents remain in SurfWriter format; nothing changes.

          Until you need to exchange documents with somebody using MS word. Then, it acts like a virus.

          The GPL, on the other hand, spreads. If you link GPL-licensed code in with your project, poof! Your project is now GPL-licensed as well, for better or for worse. Some people will argue it's better, some worse, but all agree that it's viral.

          True, true. If you don't like it, feel free to write your own library or negotiate a different license.

          See the difference?

          I think so. MS word forces me to use MS word so that I can do business with someone else (using MS word, which is the standard), whereas the GPL allows me to save development time if I can deal with the restrictions of the license. Of course, I am still able to use GPL tools with no worries whatsoever.

          I think I like the GPL virus better than the MS virus.

          • Until you need to exchange documents with somebody using MS word. Then, it acts like a virus.

            No... the defining characteristic of a virus is that it spreads. If needing to use Microsoft Word for document X (the one you need to share) made it difficult or impossible to use SurfWriter for documents A, B, and C, you might have a point. But since that isn't the case at all... well, you get the picture.
        • In OOP, child classes inherits the characteristics of its parent class. They call this inheritance, not "a viral infection that attaches the characteristics of the parent class to all of its child classes". Steve had a harsher word for open source program (it was cancer). MS chose to use words with negative connotations when describing open source products since they goal is to discourage you from switching.
          • In OOP, child classes inherits the characteristics of its parent class. They call this inheritance, not "a viral infection that attaches the characteristics of the parent class to all of its child classes".

            The word "inheritance" cannot be reasonably applied to the GPL, however, because it doesn't merely affect "child classes," to use your metaphor. The GPL doesn't only apply to derived works; it applies to works that merely link GPL-licensed object code.

            To extend the analogy, it would be as if any class
            • The motivation behind the original choice of the word "viral" to describe the GPL is certainly up for debate, but ultimately it makes no difference. "Viral" is, connotations notwithstanding, the best word for the job.

              No it's not. The word "viral" means "caused by a virus". A virus is literally an organism that infects and destroys other organisms. Figuratively a virus is something that poisons or corrupts. See dict.org for both definitions. The commonality is that a virus is destructive. This is why t

              • You use the word "viral" as if it just meant "replicates" but there's more to a virus than that.

                Noooo.... "Replicating" is not the right word to apply here. We're talking about something that, when introduced as a part of a system, spreads autonomously to all parts of that system. "Infectious?" Maybe. "Genetic?" Absolutely not; that's just silly.

                I stand by my assertion: "viral" is the best word I've found so far to describe the behavior of the GPL, connotations or no connotations.
                • Noooo.... "Replicating" is not the right word to apply here. We're talking about something that, when introduced as a part of a system, spreads autonomously to all parts of that system. "Infectious?" Maybe. "Genetic?" Absolutely not; that's just silly.

                  Genetic is a good description because it shows that the licensing only affects derivative works. Basically GPL'd product A plus non-GPL'd product B gives birth to GPL'd product C. And even after the union, B is still non-GPL'd. It's only C that is now

            • The word "inheritance" cannot be reasonably applied to the GPL, however, because it doesn't merely affect "child classes," to use your metaphor. The GPL doesn't only apply to derived works; it applies to works that merely link GPL-licensed object code.

              If you link in a library then you are creating a derivative work. Imagine you have written Product A and you chose the FOO license. Now you want to extend product A to use code exposed by Library B. The final product is no longer Product A; it has become

        • If you link GPL-licensed code in with your project, poof! Your project is now GPL-licensed as well, for better or for worse. Some people will argue it's better, some worse, but all agree that it's viral.

          You're missing the point.

          First of all, what you say is false. Linking GPL code in with your project does not compel your project to be GPL, unless you distribute the resulting project. It is amazing how often incorrect myths like your statement are perpetuated.

          Second of all, you conveniently neglect to

          • Linking GPL code in with your project does not compel your project to be GPL, unless you distribute the resulting project. It is amazing how often incorrect myths like your statement are perpetuated.

            Oh, for crying out loud. What is the point of having a project if one does not distribute it? The assumption that we're talking about public projects is implicit in this whole discussion. Try to focus on the important points, and avoid the nits, okay?

            Second of all, you conveniently neglect to mention the fac
        • > The Microsoft Office document formats are not viral, because they affect nothing other than themselves. If you install Microsoft Word on your computer, all of your SurfWriter documents remain in SurfWriter format; nothing changes.

          And if you install Emacs on your computer nothing changes either.

          > The GPL, on the other hand, spreads. If you link GPL-licensed code in with your project, poof! Your project is now GPL-licensed as well

          The GPL doesn't "spread" any more than any other license does. If

        • The Microsoft Office document formats are not viral, because they affect nothing other than themselves. If you install Microsoft Word on your computer, all of your SurfWriter documents remain in SurfWriter format; nothing changes.

          No -- I have to disagree here. There's a two-phase propagation mechanism. It's a pain to deal with other people's Word documents if you don't have Word, and the easiest thing to do when you're working in Word is save in .doc format. Documents take over applications, which then
  • by Chester K (145560) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:44AM (#5542236) Homepage
    but it doesn't look that way to me.

    You have to learn to crawl before you learn to walk. Think back a few years when Microsoft didn't even let their source out the door at all -- then try to say with a straight face that they're not slowly sliding down the slippery slope towards the gaping maw of Open Source that's eating their lunch.

    Look, Microsoft is a company that wants to make money. They will eventually do whatever their customers demand. If that means eventually giving out full source along with their binaries because everyone else is doing it, then that's what they'll do; or they'll become irrelevant in the marketplace, which is something they'll never allow to happen.
    • by brad-x (566807) <brad@brad-x.com> on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:52AM (#5542270) Homepage

      The main purpose for shared source is to obfuscate the meaning of open-source, to make it less important in the eyes of the customer.

      Hey, our source is free for you to browse also, what's the difference?

      Big difference. But it won't matter to people. It's buzzword compliant. Make no mistake, this business is NOT about meeting customer demand.

      This business is about telling the customer either directly or indirectly what to demand, and lock them into their decisions long term.

      You can't accuse a shyster of appealing to your needs because he's interested in them.

      • I entirely agree.

        Microsoft is about marketing and making money, not about making better software. Right now the term "open source" is a huge buzzword. People hear that open source is good.. but microsoft isn't open source so they are bad.. oh but wait now MS is sharing their source, so they are as good as everyone else now...

        This is nothing but a marketing ploy, MS will not gpl or bsd license their software.. it will not happen. (my dying words eh)
    • then try to say with a straight face that they're not slowly sliding down the slippery slope towards the gaping maw of Open Source that's eating their lunch.

      Wow, watch those metaphors roll! I guess that sentence makes sense if Open Source works like, say, the Sarlacc at the bottom of the Pit of Carkoon from Return of the Jedi.

  • by watzinaneihm (627119) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:45AM (#5542239) Journal
    Those who do not understand GNU are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.
  • As I read it... (Score:4, Informative)

    by cperciva (102828) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:45AM (#5542240) Homepage
    As I read the license, you *can* combine MSSL code with code distributed under other licenses; what you can't do is combine it with code distributed under the GPL.

    I see no reason why combining MSSL and BSDL code would be forbidden.
    • Re:As I read it... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Politas (1535) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @02:38AM (#5542605) Homepage Journal
      Yep. The relevant bits:

      2. That you are not allowed to combine or distribute the Software with other software that is licensed under terms that seek to require that the Software (or any intellectual property in it) be provided in source code form, licensed to others to allow the creation or distribution of derivative works, or distributed without charge.

      3. That if you distribute the Software in source code form you do so only under this license (i.e. you must include a complete copy of this license with your distribution), and if you distribute the Software solely in object form you only do so under a license that complies with this license.


      Explicitly written to exclude the GPL and similar licences which demand source availability for any derivatives. Looks extremely compatible with the BSD licence, as far as I can tell.

      This seems a lot more than "inching closer" to me. Can anyone point out some restriction I'm missing? The only question is just what the phrasing in clause 2 means. If you group it like:

      That you are not allowed to combine or distribute the Software with other software that is:
      a) licensed under terms that seek to require that the Software (or any intellectual property in it) be provided in source code form,
      b) licensed to others to allow the creation or distribution of derivative works, or
      c) distributed without charge.


      Then it's pretty restrictive. But you can also read it as:

      That you are not allowed to combine or distribute the Software with other software that is licensed under terms that seek to require that the Software (or any intellectual property in it) be:
      a) provided in source code form,
      b) licensed to others to allow the creation or distribution of derivative works, or
      c) distributed without charge.


      Herein lies the problem with not writing licences in legalese. The same sentence can be read either way, and the former is far more restrictive than the latter. Optimistic people will read the latter, but perhaps Microsoft are holding the former as a hammer to use in the future?
  • Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:47AM (#5542250) Homepage
    Take a look at8. That if you sue anyone over patents that you think may apply to the Software for a person's use of the Software, your license to the Software ends automatically.

    This is interesting, could this be an statement on software patents? Or do they want to know if the software is patentable, then they want to be able to take patent action?
    • That you will ... (c) indemnify, hold harmless, and defend Microsoft from and against any claims or lawsuits, including attorneys' fees, that arise or result from the use or distribution of your modifications to the Software and any additional software you distribute along with the Software.

      It's worse than that... if somebody sues Microsoft because you distributed modified versions of their software, and someone's balls get cut off, you have to agree to defend Microsoft including attorneys' fees against s
      • IANAL, but I think that means you are responsible for your own attorneys' fees involved - you don't have to pay Microsoft's bill. You just have to say "Microsoft didn't do it". IANAL.
  • Rights? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:49AM (#5542258)
    Timothy, I have a question. It's not a troll, and it's not flamebait; it's just a simple question, one that could be addressed with a simple answer.

    What does this have to do with "your rights online?"

    I have come to accept, over the past several years, that the Slashdot idea of "rights" is wildly different from my own. This bothers me deeply, but I see little point in arguing about it in broad strokes. But I fail to see how this story fits in with even the Slashdot-standard idea of "rights."

    Can you-- indeed, can anyone-- clear this up for me, please?
    • Re:Rights? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Waffle Iron (339739)
      What does this have to do with "your rights online?"

      It's simple. Microsoft is offering a license agreement which you may choose to accept. That agreement grants you certain rights to Microsoft's intellectual property. The terms of that agreement were recently changed.

      The intellectual property in question is contained in software. When software is used, it is "online".

      Hence, this information affects your rights online. Hope that helps.

    • Re:Rights? (Score:5, Funny)

      by nurightshu (517038) <rightshu@cox.net> on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:14AM (#5542351) Homepage Journal

      As best I can tell, many of the zealots here think they have the "right" to the fruits of any programmer or company's labor, simply because it's trivial to make copies of the original work. I've been reading /. myself since '99 or so (I still remember Geeks in Space), and it seems that around here, Richard Stallman's belief that all code should be free for anyone to use or modify somehow reflects actual reality.

      Of course, the reality of the situation is that the author of the work has the right (not "right") to release or distribute his work however he sees fit; this of course gives rise to the infantile bawling over how company x (where x usually equals "Microsoft") is the root of all evil, responsible for the Kennedy assassination, the Challenger and Columbia incidents, and just about anything bad that has happened to them personally in their entire lives.

      Since Microsoft is only releasing code under the terms of a license the zealots feel is draconian, it is of course an egregious abridgement of the zealots' "right" to get the latest 0day_winXP_hax0r3d.iso.

      Hope this helps.

      • Re:Rights? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ryochiji (453715) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:26AM (#5542392) Homepage
        >many of the zealots here think they have the "right" to the fruits of any programmer or company's labor, simply because it's trivial to make copies of the original work.

        Now that's a wrong take on Open Source if I'd seen one... I think you've been eating too much of Microsoft's FUD. Open Source isn't about leaching, that is, taking advantage of other people's work. It's about collaboration and freedom, and putting quality in front of profit. If, as you suggest, Open Source was successful only because it was cheap, you wouldn't be seeing the kind of high quality software you see today. The Open Source license works only because the Open Source development model works. You can't talk about one without looking at the other. And that's what M$ doesn't understand (at least IMO).

      • many of the zealots here think they have the "right" to the fruits of any programmer or company's labor, simply because it's trivial to make copies of the original work.
        >>>>>>>
        Is it really such a zealot-ous concept? I mean science has been operating the same way for hundreds of years (you base your own work upon all the discoveries of others), and it's worked amazingly well. I'd say that this new paradigm, that companies have absolute power over their creations, is the one that is new a
        • Re:Rights? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @02:04AM (#5542513)
          I mean science has been operating the same way for hundreds of years

          Apples and oranges. Progress in the sciences-- at least when it comes to pure research-- is driven by a desire for knowledge for knowledge's sake, and almost always takes place in the context of a university or other funded institution.

          Progress in the commercial arts, on the other hand, is driven by the profit motive, and the profit motive only. Take away the profit motive, and the wheels of industry grind to a halt.

          When the two overlap-- when science is driven by the profit motive-- we see that the commercial model supercedes the academic one.

          I'd say that this new paradigm, that companies have absolute power over their creations, is the one that is new and unusual.

          Oh, you'd be wrong about that. The tradition of intellectual property-- albeit divorced from the tradition of commerce-- goes back 60,000 years or more. The aboriginal peoples of Australia, whose culture predates written history by 50 millennia, have a strong tradition of intellectual property; songs and stories are owned things, and taking them without permission is seen as a crime of property tantamount to theft.

          The same basic tradition, as near as anybody can tell having evolved independently, is found in the Tlingit and Haida peoples of ancient North America. So not only is the tradition of intellectual property old, it's also something that has arisen independently in different cultures over time.

          I'm not going to argue that the keep-the-secrets idea is any more or less valid than the share-what-you-know idea, because in point of fact they're not really comparable. But the tradition of exclusivity goes back many thousands of years before the tradition of collectivism.
          • Progress in the commercial arts, on the other hand, is driven by the profit motive, and the profit motive only. Take away the profit motive, and the wheels of industry grind to a halt.

            When the two overlap-- when science is driven by the profit motive-- we see that the commercial model supercedes the academic one.

            You seem to be thinking about patents. We are not talking about patentable (or should-be patentable) designs when we talk about computer code. This is for lots of reasons; some purely pragmat

    • It's a story about licensing, and open vs closed source politics. I think the "Your rights online" category is just a catch-all for this kind of topic.
  • by pariahdecss (534450) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:50AM (#5542264)
    Typical Microsoft embrace and extend strategy? Or perhaps a tainted gift for RMS on his recent birthday? The EULA can not be decompiled by any craft that we here possess, Gimli son of Gloin, the source must be returned to Redmond and cast back in to the fiery chasm from whence it came . . .
  • by MoThugz (560556) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:55AM (#5542283) Homepage
    It is just too restrictive for a business entity. How many companies that you know of that can claim to have profitted from GPL-based software? Redhat (please, they're virtually unheard of outside of the OS markets), IBM (they've been a gigantic conglomerate long before Linux became mainstream).

    Windows on the other hand, like it or not, is a catalyst of profitable software firms. Where would Adobe, Veritas, heck even Electronic Arts be without MS? Sure the OS is buggy, and fixes aren't released lightning fast... But who can say that without Windows, these company would be just as successful today?

    Microsoft sure does a lot of wrong things when it comes to Windows... but one thing it got right from the beginning was how to drive the market to complement their invention, and without opening up their source code at that. In some cases, the related SDK will do just fine.
    • by pauljlucas (529435) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:35AM (#5542418) Homepage Journal
      Windows on the other hand, like it or not, is a catalyst of profitable software firms. Where would Adobe, Veritas, heck even Electronic Arts be without MS?
      They'd be exactly where they are now, but writing software for some other OS (e.g., Mac OS X).
      But who can say that without Windows, these company would be just as successful today?
      To those companies, Windows is just the API they have to write to. Windows does nothing to market their product muchless make it better.
      ... but one thing [Microsoft] got right from the beginning was how to drive the market to complement their invention.
      Funny, but Apple has been doing this for years. If they didn't, they wouldn't exist now.

      Since you bought up Adobe, they've always been very Mac-friendly. It was Apple that enabled Adobe to make lots of money licensing PostScript interpreters in every Apple LaserWriter sold that started desktop publishing. And now Mac OS X incorporates PDF into the core of the OS.

    • Where would Adobe, Veritas, heck even Electronic Arts be without MS?

      They'd be running on the Mac. What's more, Apple would have not only a big marketshare of the software, but they'd have the hardware, too. And everything would Just Work(tm), for that very reason. At least, until Apple started screwing with its APIs the way M$ has been...

      Sure the OS is buggy, and fixes aren't released lightning fast... But who can say that without Windows, these company would be just as successful today?

      All of the

    • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @02:20AM (#5542556)
      Aha, my friend, you've forgotten one very important example. Why do I think it's important? Because they've made a model that's worth following. That company is TrollTech, better known as the authors of the Qt toolkit. They seem to be quite well with their model, which basically amounts to releasing their library code under the GPL, and making it available as a standard commercial library for a fee. That means if you want to write Free Software (err or rather, anything GPL-compatible and Free, I guess) you can use their library under the terms of the GPL. If you want to write commercial software, you can write commercial closed-source (or whatever other commercial model you are using) software, you just have to pay for developer seat licenses. Makes perfect sense.


      I don't know what their bottom line looks like, but they seem to have been rapidly expanding and releasing new and improved products over the last few years, so it seems to be working well for them. I also think this is a pretty reasonable model for developers of library software - the benefits of Open Source, and the ability to actually profit off of your labor too. So while I agree that in general the GPL is probably too restrictive for businesses to feel comfortable with (they tend to feel more comfortable with BSD licenses - it's free, use it as you please, give us a nod for giving it to you), there are cases where it has been used successfully by profitable businesses.

    • Windows on the other hand, like it or not, is a catalyst of profitable software firms. Where would Adobe, Veritas, heck even Electronic Arts be without MS? Sure the OS is buggy, and fixes aren't released lightning fast... But who can say that without Windows, these company would be just as successful today?

      Hell, what about anti-virus firms? An entire industry has sprouted from Microsoft's role in the computer world.

      Microsoft sure does a lot of wrong things when it comes to Windows... but one thin

    • Windows on the other hand, like it or not, is a catalyst of profitable software firms [...]

      Windows is a protection racket. Adobe, Veritas et al are riding the coat-tails of a tyrant.

      How many companies that you know of that can claim to have profitted from GPL-based software?

      The whole point is that people don't profit from selling it. Enormous numbers of people profit from using it. Think about internet infrastructure companies - telcos, web hosting, ISPs. Linux runs these. Small-to-medium size b

  • Is The 'Soft Going Soft on Open Source?

    By Mary Jo Foley
    Microsoft's newest shared source license seems to be inching closer -- at least in spirit -- to the GNU GPL.

    The open-source faithful have been harsh critics of Microsoft's shared source licensing plan and justifiably so. They have claimed that Microsoft has attempted to ride the coattails of the GNU General Public License (GPL), while simultaneously slamming the GPL as contaminating everything in its path.

    Even some of Microsoft's own employees, su


  • guess the main difference is that programmers do not have to send back any changes made to the source code.


    Surely that means it's moving away from GPL...
    • Re:Closer to GPL (Score:3, Informative)

      by ryants (310088)
      You are under no obligation to send your changes back to the community under the GPL.

      Please see the GPL FAQ [gnu.org].

      • You are under no obligation to send your changes back to the community under the GPL.

        However, if you base your product on or incorporate GPL-licensed code, and you release that product to anyone through any channel, you are required to give a machine-readable copy of your source code at no charge to anybody who asks for it. Which is effectively the same thing.

        I have no idea if this is covered in a FAQ or not; please refer to the actual license.
        • Re:Closer to GPL (Score:3, Informative)

          by Flamerule (467257)

          You are under no obligation to send your changes back to the community under the GPL.

          However, if you base your product on or incorporate GPL-licensed code, and you release that product to anyone through any channel, you are required to give a machine-readable copy of your source code at no charge to anybody who asks for it. Which is effectively the same thing.

          This is wrong. I believe you're referring to option (b) of the following GPL section:

          3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work base

      • Re:Closer to GPL (Score:3, Informative)

        by skillet-thief (622320)
        People never get this, and it is mostly the fault of the mainstream press coverage of the GPL. They get to the part where they explain that "you can modify the source code as long as you give the changes back to the community." Is it really too complicated to say "you can modify and distribute the source code, if ..."?

        No, I guess that is really just too complicated...


  • "Microsoft is 'inching closer -- at least in spirit -- to the GNU GPL'"

    They have this exactly backwards. If anything, Microsoft has inched closer to the letter of the GNU GPL. Nearly every other action they have taken as a company has shown contempt for the spirit of the GPL.

    ---------

    • Nearly every other action they have taken as a company has shown contempt for the spirit of the GPL.

      This seems fair to me. Every action the FSF has taken, including the creation of the GPL in the first place, has shown contempt for Microsoft's business model.
  • by tuxedo-steve (33545) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:00AM (#5542304)
    The article claims that Microsoft is "inching closer -- at least in spirit -- to the GNU GPL" with these license tweaks, but it doesn't look that way to me.
    I'd say this is pretty clear-cut. Is not having to send MS any changes made to the code more or less like the GNU GPL? More, you say? Doesn't it follow then that the license could be said to have "inched" closer to the GNU GPL?

    I know /. has a vested interest in polarising people around these issues in order to keep people emotionally interested and the readership up, but if you're going to make illogical editorial commentary like this, how about posting it in the comments instead of the article body?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The licenses for most open-source software are designed to grant you the freedom to share and change it. By contrast, the MSFT Shared Source License is intended to guarantee the illusion that you have any freedom to share and change Microsoft software software, and to make sure Microsoft can control any user of the software. This Shared Source License applies to a small portion of Microsoft's software, and not to any other software. (Most other Microsoft software is covered by an eight-page EULA instead.)

  • An inch. (Score:5, Informative)

    by DarkVein (5418) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:06AM (#5542319) Journal
    The article claims that Microsoft is "inching closer -- at least in spirit -- to the GNU GPL" with these license tweaks, but it doesn't look that way to me.

    An inch is how much of a stride? How many strides is Shared Source Initiative/License from GNU/GPL?

    This is a pretty big step for Microsoft. They are, to a legal extent, relinquishing complete control of the source. Now you can maintain a private fork of the SSL source. (isn't that a nice abbreviation?) You won't have to report every little tweak you make to Microsoft.

    On the other hand, MS could be bowing to simple reality: they don't have or want the resources to administer 900,000,000 variations on patches, developers keep private trees anyway, companies do not like dishing out their private modifications to potential competitors. Even so, they've bowed to reality. If they keep bowing to reality, they'll eventually hit something near the BSD license, and do a lot of good when they start getting close.

    • Re:An inch. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jkrise (535370)
      "and do a lot of good when they start getting close."

      Excuse me, I haven't heard of a single entity that has benefitted from proximity to MS. You can ask Corel, Intel, Citrix, SAP etc. etc. The very fact that MS has coined a term called the Shared Source License (SSL) to take aim at the GPL betrays their true intentions while moving closer.

      True to the naming traditions at MS, SSL is a misnomer. It joins a great list of product names that mean the opposite of their literal meanings. Sharing indicates relin
  • Bla bla bla, you still can't modify the code that you're looking at. Furthermore, if it is even possible that you can modify a given product to work better with the code that you are merely looking at (Windows/Office/IIS or some component thereof), there are so many stipulations to the agreement that it is 99% impossible that you will ever be able to apply your new found knowledge in any useful way to an open source project (or a competing closed-source project).

    "Shared source" is just a marketing ploy.

  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <teamhasnoi AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:25AM (#5542388) Homepage Journal
    MS licensing definitions [microsoft.com]

    * If the licensee includes any amount of GPL code in another program, that entire program becomes subject to the terms of the GPL.

    This third restriction often is called a "viral" clause, because it causes the GPL to "infect" any future software that incorporates GPL code, whether or not the developer intended that result. This even applies to software not in existence at the time the license was drafted. It should be pointed out that there are many OSS licenses, most of which do not include GPL-style restrictions and do not tell licensees how they must license their own innovations. This anti-commercial philosophy is rejected by much of the OSS community.

    Interesting. I thought that the 'OSS community' was all about an 'anti-commercial philosophy'.

    But I just want a cool OS....

  • by g4dget (579145) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:46AM (#5542451)
    A quick reading of that license suggests that software under it could be shipped and run on BSD and Linux systems, that it can be modified and redistributed, that it can link with LGPL and BSD code, and that it might be considered Open Source. The restriction of not linking with GPL'ed software seems spiteful and a gratuitious incompatibility--there isn't really any commercial or legal interest that that serves (I guess Microsoft's licenses work like their software), but other open source licenses are incompatible with the GPL, so that's not necessarily and issue.

    The real question, however, is whether any interesting software will be shipped under this license. Rotor, for example, still comes with the "non-commercial-only" license (here [microsoft.com]).

    If this is one of several shared source licenses they have but they don't use it for anything interesting, then it's just a PR ploy. Of course, I have a hard time thinking of what kind of open source software I would want from Microsoft anyway: none of the stuff they have is of much interest to me.

  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:57AM (#5542493)
    I have read each word of the new Microsoft license and firmly believe that it is superior in all ways to the viral GPL license which plagues so much software that is forced onto the modern consumer through the power of monopoly.

    Contrary to such atrocities against humanity and the larger population of the world, the Microsoft license liberates every person by empowering them to use high quality tools for crashing computers at ten times the price, while simultaneously giving them the power to do almost as much as nothing in terms of repairing problems that arise when the liberation software fails (in other words, when it actually works properly and thus does not fulfill its purpose of crashing the aforementioned computer), thus creating value for the consumer and keeping the economy strong.

    If the open source world actually used its brain, every developer of open source software would sign his intellectual property over to Microsoft for free, on the sole condition that Microsoft will also take away everything that person owns and leave them hungry in the streets.

    Microsoft is such a noble and ethical entity that most developers would die to defend it.

  • But it doens't walk like a duck, neither looks like one. Nor like a penguin.

  • 1) Give source to users
    2) let users mod software
    3) any problems, can't blame us, YOU modified it.

    yeah, yeah, it's not likely but I just feel really cynical today
  • by t_pet422 (613073) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @02:18AM (#5542551) Homepage
    Article 2 of the agreement:

    2. That you are not allowed to combine or distribute the Software with other software that is licensed under terms that seek to require that the Software (or any intellectual property in it) be provided in source code form, licensed to others to allow the creation or distribution of derivative works, or distributed without charge.

    Sheesh...they should have just said, "You can't use our code in any GPL project. Ever. Period." Microsoft is so good at keeping their proprietary monopoly, aren't they?
  • Obviously a lot of pro-GPL talk goes around here. Duh. I must say I love the fruits of the GPL (poor college student). However, I seem to be confused by the GPL and other "open source" licenses quite a bit. I think this has to do with the fact that I'm not a coder, so I don't think about it in that light. So, is there a site that not only answers a few of the recent FAQs on the GPL (I google'd for one and it was last updated in 2001 and was not very complete)?? Also, what about comparison on some of t
  • by zenyu (248067) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @02:34AM (#5542592)
    The interesting part is that it seems to allow you do distribute derivative works with a license with an addition like "This software may be used for any purpose but may not be examined or run by any employee of a corporation convicted of monopoly abuse in any juristiction."

    Of course, it only looks BSD like, the "all rights reserved" part bans anyone from examining, compiling or using code created under this license. So the fact that you can ban Microsoft from using your derivative is beside the point.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @02:35AM (#5542594)
    This is all pretty meaningless. The code in question is just sample code that people can modify instead of starting from scratch. Nothing to see here, folks. Please move along.
  • by Trolling4Dollars (627073) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @02:42AM (#5542612) Journal
    The shared source license is just an attempt to pull attention away from the GPL because the GPL has Microsoft running scared. They put on a good face, but deep down they are concerned because of how much developer mindshare OSS has.

    Microsoft only has a few specific goals here:
    1. To distract anyone considering OSS and make them feel like there is a viable alternative from a single accountable entity. (Something that most OSS has a little trouble providing)

    2. To disrupt the OSS community and have them focus more on the licenses than the code, which could have a double ended result: code forking and migration of the less "devout" to shared source.

    3. To distract people from where they are headed next. I think this is the biggest reason because I think you will see the Windows code base released within the next few years with very few strings attached. Why? I must draw from Neal Stephenson's wonderful essay "In the Beggining, there was Command Line" to explain:

    As software technologies progress and functionality expands, older software loses value. To the point where it is eventually worth-less. Hence, it can be free (as in beer and in parts, as in speech). Why would they do this? I think Microsoft is getting ready to transition to many other technology markets as the products they develop have less value and relevance over time.

    My bets:
    *Data Storage Systems (Not just file systems, but transparent, intelligent data storage devices that do all the work for you: categorizing data in to types automatically, analyzing data usage and optimizing the store for nearly immediate access no matter how big the data set, etc...)
    *Big Iron Replacement (Windows Datacenter is just the start. They want this to kill off UNIX, VMS and other OSes like them. The datacenter is where they want to be now.)
    *Embedded Devices on a much grander scale than WinCE is capable of. The only thing the OS on these devices will have in common with Windows are the logo and a few graphics, but the code will be vastly different and run on completely new architectures. There wouldn't even be much point in calling it Windows anymore.
    *Artificially "better" performing network protocols that embrace, extend and extinguish TCP/IP. They will tune TCP/IP and add new features in it that most users will want. But these features will break the TCP/IP standard. Sure it'll work with non-MS stuff. However, as it's always been, the MS stuff will just work so much better if it's all MS. The gains in performance will likely only be a little network "Reaganomics". Shift a little performance hit here or there to make something else look better. Think about how many people think that Windows XP is a better OS than previous versions of windows only based on boot time and time to load IE. Those are not significant factors folks! The same thing will apply here.

    I say, we shouldn't let MS distract us too much, but we SHOULD keep a watchful eye on where we think they might be headed because the desktop isn't going to be enough to keep them alive in a few years.

    Personally, I think one of the most important things that OSS should be focussing on is the improvement and extension of input devices, that's where the next technology war will be fought on the embedded device front. Because you sure as hell aren't going to have KB, mouse or even serial port on a computer embedded in you walls, floors and clothing.
  • Mr Software Developer went to the house of the big bad tyrant Micro Soft. He wanted to help develop his applications with him, but Micro Soft was an evil man.

    "I'll let you have my source code" he said, out of character. Mr Software Developer took his source, but before he could leave, Micro Soft bent him over and raped him up the ass, stealing money out of his back pocket with every thrust.

    -

    The moral, boys and girls, is somewhat simple...

    Microsoft's definition of Open Source = being assraped by Bill for
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Incoherent rantings, blind rage against Microsoft, mis-spellings, distortion of the facts... How would you like to be a Slashdot editor?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @03:06AM (#5542661)
    Is it just me, or is everybody missing the point that the "open" license is only for their "ASP .Net Starter Kit", which are just a bunch of sample projects to demonstrate .NET?
  • Making Money (Score:4, Interesting)

    by descil (119554) <[teraten] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @03:40AM (#5542723)
    Is it wrong to want to make money? Microsoft is a corporation, they have a lot of salaries to pay, and they're not nonprofit. Have no illusions; they're out to make money. Is it any surprise that they don't want an anticommercial license like the GPL infecting their own license? Well, it shouldn't be.

    Microsoft needs to sell its products. In the past, /.'ers have complained that MS would not release any of its source code. We've complained that MS steals GPL source code. But now we're complaining that they're out to make money? Er.

    I'm against big business as much as the next socialist, but I'm afraid Microsoft isn't my biggest worry right now. They're in the process of reform, cut them some slack and let them still make money, huh? Just be proud - they're afraid of OSS enough to do this whole reform thing.
    • Re:Making Money (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This is not a "reform," this is an attack on the GPL. As you say Microsoft are a for-profit organisation. So why are they moving towards releasing source code? They have never done it in the past. They are doing it cause one of the major advantages of a competitor (ie GNU, Linux etc) is that the source code is available. MS are attempting to match a competitors offerings (in public oppion at least not matching in reality) so they can say we are just as good if not better that everyone else.

      Now you may say
  • by miffo.swe (547642) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (molbdeh.leinad)> on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @04:57AM (#5542892) Homepage Journal
    Shared Source has nothing to do with any new policy or some sudden change in behavior. Its just an attempt in keeping the remaining developers hooked onto MS and stop the massive stampeede onto linux and others.

    MS have clearly shown that they will grab for any field in PC they think is profitable. Using their OS as a battering ram into the market they have suceeded with this many times. I am pretty sure that they have misintrepret why developers go to open source. If it wasnt open source it would have been something else. The main point is that they want away from MS. Where they go from that isnt important. Making Shared Source into a license that only benefit MS wont lure many developers back thats for sure. Especielly since MS is knowned for their mumbo jumbo licenses with smallprint in the size of kvarks.
    • Shared Source has nothing to do with any new policy or some sudden change in behavior. Its just an attempt in keeping the remaining developers hooked onto MS and stop the massive stampeede onto linux and others.

      What massive stampede? Linux is making strong headway in the server market, but there, it's mostly eating into Unix market share. I don't see any evidence of much more than a trickle of developers migrating as far as client development work is concerned. That will remain true as long as there aren
  • by mr3038 (121693) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @11:03AM (#5544411)

    I think this new MSFT license is indeed an open source license. However, it isn't a copyleft license. Here's how I see difference licenses:

    GPL: You can use this software distribution any way you like. If you decide to distribute this version or any derivative works, the distribution license must be GPL and the software must be made available in source form. Derivate works are not allowed to be distributed in object [a.k.a. binary] form only.

    Shared Source License for Microsoft ASP.NET Starter Kit: You can use this software distribution according to the terms specified in the EULA. If you decide to distribute this version or any derivative works you have two choices: (a) distribution is in object form and the distribution license is compatible with this license; or (b) distribution is in source form and it's distributed under this license. Derivate works must be allowed to be distributed in object form only.

    BSD: do whatever you want but give credit where credit is due.

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