Ms-PL, Ms-RL Get OSI Approval

Lora Bentley

Tectonic reports that licenses Microsoft submitted to the Open Source Initiative for certification as open source licenses have indeed been approved. Quoting the OSI, the story says:

OSI president Michael Tiemann wrote that the OSI board had 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."

Tiemann's statement reiterated that Microsoft received no special treatment in the submission and discussion process, which he describes as vigorous and thorough. He notes:

Every approval that OSI issues represents our community's demand for more open-source code, a larger and more vital open-source community, and all the benefits open source brings to innovation in a free market. The new Ms-PL and Ms-RL are no exceptions.

The news is undoubtedly making waves in the wider open source community. Matthew Aslett of The 451 Group hits the nail on the head with this observation


For some, this announcement is confirmation that the sky is falling and the end of the world is nigh. For others, it represents the conclusion to a process that has seen Microsoft engaging with the OSI on the OSI's terms and showing that it is willing to be flexible.

My initial reaction was more in line with the former, I must say. But the more I read, talk and think about it, it only makes sense. As one coworker commented upon hearing the news, "If you can't beat 'em..."


ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley poses a question that also makes sense, given the fun Microsoft has had lately with the Office Open XML standardization process. She asks:

Do you anticipate Microsoft will push to have more of its technologies and products released under these new licenses, so that the company will have a greater chance of them being considered "open standards" when submitting technologies for government/RFP consideration?

It wouldn't surprise me if that proved true. Will Microsoft's new licenses quiet Ballmer's comments about IP infringement? I doubt it. But they will at least give the company more leverage when negotiating with potential customers and with standards organizations that are considering Microsoft technology. And it may be the first step toward Ballmer's ideal. Groklaw quotes the Microsoft CEO as follows:

I would love to see all Open Source innovation happen on top of Windows. So we've done a lot to encourage, for example, the team building, PHP, the team building, many of the other Open Source components, I'd love to see those sorts of innovations proceed very successfully on top of Windows.

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