Microsoft clarifies open source Marketplace policy

open_soresThere has been a recent brouhaha over Microsoft banning open source software from Marketplace.  Microsoft’s Todd Brix has clarified the issue, making it clear that Open Source software is welcome, as long as it is not the viral kind that would put special obligations on Microsoft as the host and distributor of the software.

Writing on the Windows Team Blog he said:

The Marketplace Application Provider Agreement (APA) already permits applications under the BSD, MIT, Apache Software License 2.0 and Microsoft Public License. We plan to update the APA shortly to clarify that we also permit applications under the Eclipse Public License, the Mozilla Public License and other, similar licenses and we continue to explore the possibility of accommodating additional OSS licenses.

GPL and LGPL software however remain banned.  Such software requires the distributor to make source code available for the application, and to allow its further distribution by purchasers of the software, an onerous obligation on a company that is trying to manage tens of thousands of developers and applications.

According to The Register both Google Android Market and the App store are already distributing software which are not in compliance with the terms of the GPL license, leaving them open to liability.  At least on the App Store such software is already banned, making the developer at least in part liable, on Marketplace Google would bear the obligation as distributor for complying with the rules and restrictions of the license.

OpenLogic, an open source advocacy organization, claims 77% of the open source software in Android Market do not comply with 4 key obligations of the GPL, leaving the app store owner open to action. 

One can see why Microsoft, not exactly an open source proponent, would be wary.

Read more on the issue at The Register here.