Cautious welcome for new MS shared source licences

OS community not horrified


Microsoft has announced three new licence templates for its Shared Source Initiative that it says should help combat the problem of licence proliferation in the open source developer community.

Jason Matusow, director of the SSI, said Microsoft has tried to write licences that are simple to understand without the assistance of a highly priced lawyer, that make it easier for the developer to know what is and isn't allowed under the licence conditions, and makes it easier for Microsoft developers to get code shared.

He made the announcement at the EuroOSCON conference in Amsterdam. The three licence templates will not retrospectively replace licences already issued, but Matusow says Microsoft will consider changing projects over to one of the new templates on a case by case basis, if developers ask.

The first of the three templates is the Permissive Licence - Ms-PL. As its name suggests, this is the most flexible of the three. Matusow says the only restrictions it places on what you do with the code are that you mustn't use the Microsoft trademark, and that the code must carry proper attribution. "It should be compatible with most open source licences, but I think it would still conflict with the GPL," Matusow said.

Second is the Community licence, Ms-CL. This is a reciprocal licence that Matusow says is probably most similar to the Mozilla public licencing model. "It basically says that if you modify and distribute the code, you must give that file back to the community," Matusow told us. There are also limited versions of both the Ms-PL (Ms-LPL) and the Ms-CL (Ms-LCL) that restrict the use of source code to the Windows environment.

The final template is the Reference Licence, MS-RL, which essentially is a look-but-don't-touch licence for developers working on interoperability issues and so on.

Georg Greve, president of the Free Software Foundation in Europe, says that on first glance, the licences look "quite interesting", adding that more careful analysis is required. "At a first glance, the Ms-PL and Ms-CL both appear to satisfy the four freedoms defining Free Software. In particular the Ms-CL also appears to implement a variation of the Copyleft idea, which was first implemented by the GNU General Public License (GPL)," Greve told The Register.

This, he added, is something of a turnaround for the company, which he says has previously referred to GPL as "viral", "cancerous" and "communist".

He went on to stress that while publishing well crafted licences is one thing, making software freely available is quite another: "It would have been preferable if Microsoft had made the decision to use the GNU General Public License (GPL) and Lesser General Public License (LGPL) for its Shared Source program."

Professor Larry "Creative Commons" Lessig and Ronald Mann, Law Professor at the University of Texas have also given the licences the thumbs up.

Lessig welcomed the move because it reduced the number of licences floating around the OS community, arguing that the proliferation of licences is the single most important problem in the world of free and open source licensing, because many are incompatible.

You can read the new licence templates for yourself here. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Old school editor Vim hits version 9 with faster scripting language
    All of the famed user-friendliness and ease of use, but 'drastically' better performance

    Old school editor fans, rejoice: some two and a half years after version 8.2, Vim 9 is here with a much faster scripting language.

    Vim 9 has only a single big new feature: a new scripting language, Vim9script. The goal is to "drastically" improve the performance of Vim scripts, while also bringing the scripting language more into line with widely used languages such as JavaScript, TypeScript, and Java.

    The existing scripting language, Vimscript, remains and will still work. Only scripts beginning with the line vim9script will be handled differently. The syntax changes are relatively modest; the important differences are in things like local versus global variables and functions, and that functions defined with :def will be compiled before they are run. This allows many errors to be caught in advance, but more significantly, compiled functions execute from 10× to 1000× faster.

    Continue reading
  • Iceotope: No need to switch servers to swap air-cooled for liquid-cooled
    Standard datacenter kit just needs a few tweaks, like pulling off the fans

    Liquid cooling specialist Iceotope claims its latest system allows customers to easily convert existing air-cooled servers to use its liquid cooling with just a few minor modifications.

    Iceotope’s Ku:l Data Center chassis-level cooling technology has been developed in partnership with Intel and HPE, the company said, when it debuted the tech this week at HPE’s Discover 2022 conference in Las Vegas. The companies claim it delivers energy savings and a boost in performance.

    According to Iceotope, the sealed liquid-cooled chassis enclosure used with Ku:l Data Center allows users to convert off-the-shelf air-cooled servers to liquid-cooled systems with a few small modifications, such as removing the fans.

    Continue reading
  • Gartner predicts 9.5% drop in PC shipments
    Stark contrast to 11 percent increase year-over-year in 2021 shipments

    The party is over for PC makers as figures from Gartner suggest the market is on course for a breathtaking decline this year.

    According to the analysts, worldwide PC shipments will decline by 9.5 percent, with consumer demand leading the way – a 13.5 percent drop is forecast, far greater than business PC demand, which is expected to drop by 7.2 percent year on year.

    The PC market in the EMEA region is forecast to fare even worse, with a 14 percent decline on the cards for 2022. Gartner pointed the finger of blame at uncertainty caused by conflicts, price increases and simple unavailability of products. Lockdowns in China were also blamed for an impact in consumer demand.

    Continue reading
  • Samsung beats TSMC to be first to produce 3nm chips
    Lower power consumption, improved performance, and a second generation of the technology on the way

    Samsung has started production of chips using its 3nm fabrication process, beating rival TSMC, which expects to begin making chips with its N3 node generation later this year.

    The resultant chips are claimed to reduce power consumption by up to 45 percent and improve performance by up to 23 percent, with further gains promised in a second generation of the process.

    Korea's electronics giant said it has started initial production with its 3nm process node, which introduces what the firm calls Multi-Bridge-Channel FET (MBCFET) technology. This is Samsung's version of the Gate-All-Around (GAA) transistor architecture, where the gate material wraps around the conducting channel.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022