Microsoft finally gets Open Source?

The OSI, the body which unilaterally maintains the list of “approved Open Source Licenses”, has approved the application from Microsoft for 2 of theirs to be deemed officially Open Source.

Acting on the advice of the License Approval Chair, the OSI Board today approved the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL) and the Microsoft Reciprocal License (Ms-RL). The decision to approve was informed by the overwhelming (though not unanimous) consensus from the open source community that these licenses satisfied the 10 criteria of the Open Source definition, and should therefore be approved.

On a personal note I am somewhat disappointed at the news, and rather more sceptical about Microsoft’s intentions behind this than some others. It seems clear however from the commentary around the blogosphere that this was fair, un-biased and the licences are indeed valid. So hey-ho, let’s give them a chance to prove me wrong.

I really, sincerely hope that they do “get” Open Source and start to work with the community in a more helpful and conciliatory manner than thus far.

After Steve Balmer’s recent comments about Red Hat though, I can’t be absolutely sure. Can you?

This feels just a bit like Red Riding Hood sitting down to have a nice chat and cup of tea with granny…

ESR may tell Microsoft to shove its license, after OOXML scandal

Eric S Raymond, co-founder of the OSI, author of many influential writings on Open Source and Technology (Including the now famous “The Cathedral and the Bazaar“) has just spoken out here against Microsoft’s trampling over the ISO standards institute in it’s aim to get their OOXML standardised along-side ODF.

…If Microsoft succeeds (which is beginning to look likely) they will have not merely damaged the prospects of open-source software, they will have ruined the good name of ISO by corrupting its people and processes. Because if OOXML, with all its huge flaws, really does pass, no one who has been conscious while this was going on is going to believe the process it passed through wasn’t a charade bought and paid for by Microsoft marketing.

…This is not behaviour that we, as a community, can live with. Despite my previous determination, I find I’m almost ready to recommend that OSI tell Microsoft to ram its licenses up one of its own orifices, even if they are technically OSD compliant. Because what good is it to conform to the letter of OSD if you’re raping its spirit?

Strong words from a very influential voice.

This whole sordid and smelly process has done nothing to improve the world’s opinion of Microsoft (I think it has made them look even more like a scared rat trapped in a corner). And it has also shown the ISO standards process to be very fatally flawed in that it is now clear that it’s “within [the very lose] rules” for a single organisation to buy, bully and cheat to get their standard approved. Irrespective of its technical merit.

ISO – you know what you have to do come February 2008… This Ecma specification can not be approved. If it does, you and your standards will come to be seen as completely inconsequential, irrelevant and pointless.