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Microsoft Makes Second GPLv2 Release 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the baby-steps dept.
angry tapir writes "Microsoft has made its second release under the General Public License in two days with software for Moodle, an 'open-source course management system that teachers use to create online learning Web sites for their classes[, which] has about 30 million users in 207 countries.' It comes on the heels of Redmond contributing drivers to the Linux community. No reports as yet on dropping temperatures in hell."
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Microsoft Makes Second GPLv2 Release

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  • by Andrew Cooper (1539649) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:14AM (#28781257) Homepage
    Someone should really check out the source, just to be sure it doesn't contain hidden subliminal "You Love Microsoft" messages. A good way to brainwash people is to interfere with their education...
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:21AM (#28781379) Journal
      Not really necessary. Microsoft's contribution [educationlabs.com] is explicitly designed for "Live Services integration" for signing in to moodle instances using Windows Live IDs(from MS, naturally) and using the various Windows Live web services(bing and friends).

      Nothing subtle about it.
    • by siloko (1133863)

      Someone should really check out the source

      Spot on, I always read the source, not only of the FOSS apps I love but also of the accompanying license. In fact my days have 63 hours in them! Also if I skip reading the license I wrote a license parser in Python which repeats any subliminal messages backwards on a timed loop. But only when I'm listening to Madonna.

  • by Jedi Alec (258881) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:14AM (#28781263)

    1) Release code under GPL
    2) Pigs fly and spread pig flue
    3) ?????
    4) Plague!
    5) Robo-ballmer rules the world

    • by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:43AM (#28781707)

      I don't like your sig. Please change it.

    • by Bigby (659157)

      1) Release some code under GPL
      2) Say GPL is good in certain cases
      3) Tell CEOs that MS supports GPL, but realizes it is not good for operating systems or office suites
      4) Keep the profitible part of the business in tact
      5) Profit!

      • by siloko (1133863)
        err so your step 2 of the three step is really 'Profit':

        1) Stuff
        2) Profit
        3) Profit!

        Genius
  • Bravo (Score:2, Insightful)

    Coming from an era when even education versions of Microsoft's software would cost a bit of scratch, I can only applaud this move. Course/Project Management software needs to be flexible and accessible. I believe this meets both criteria.
    • Re:Bravo (Score:5, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:24AM (#28781403) Journal
      Moodle is a preexisting OSS project, this is just a plugin for making Windows Live web services work with it. This does suggest that MS doesn't think that they can kill moodle; but it isn't their offering.
      • Re:Bravo (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bloodninja (1291306) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @11:42AM (#28782641)

        Moodle is a preexisting OSS project, this is just a plugin for making Windows Live web services work with it. This does suggest that MS doesn't think that they can kill moodle; but it isn't their offering.

        Actually, it might lead to courses that use Moodle (my university does) to require Windows Live Messenger for each student. That means that Linux users, who otherwise could use the Moodle coursework, will now not be able to interoperate fully with the rest of their coursemates. This seems to me to be adding an option for a _dependency_ on Windows to Moodle. I am afraid that many courses will exercise that option.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Vintermann (400722)

          The bits of WLM you would need can be used for Linux, can't they? Kopete and what's-it's-name-now Gaim lets you use that service just fine.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by bertoelcon (1557907)

            what's-it's-name-now Gaim

            Its Pidgin.

          • by SEWilco (27983)
            Is everything which these Windows Live interfaces do provided by Pidgin within the Moodle interface? I thought Pidgin had its own IM window, and some of the stuff mentioned for this WL Moodle interface don't seem like IM methods.
  • by CarpetShark (865376) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:16AM (#28781299)

    This is an moodle plugin for microsoft's own groupware. Like their previous driver offering, it's not a wholehearted contribution to making an open source project better, but instead just a thing to make microsoft's own services work better when people need to use open source.

    It's good to see a willingness to do even this much, but hardly a staggering change of heart. They've a long way to go yet.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      For a company so anti-open source, this is a staggering change of heart.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DadLeopard (1290796)
      Microsoft is not note for being a Kind, Giving organisation!! Expect anything from them to be totally in their own self interest! Also everything come with a Hook!!
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Unlike Red Hat, Sun, Novel, IBM, etc which are just contributing to Linux and other open source through pure altruism!

        • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @11:11AM (#28782147)

          Microsoft is a victim of their reputation, a reputation honestly earned by their past actions. When everyone who ever gets in bed with you turns up dead or with a story of barely escaping alive the next day, sometimes it's appropriate for others to label you a black widow and liken you to a praying mantis.

          No one claims that anyone in the group you listed are contributing to open source purely because they are altruistic and without any self interest. But that's the point, everyone on your list 'plays nice' with open source because they have an interest in seeing it succeed. Microsoft, however, has never acted as if open source was anything but a despicable wretch deserving a slow painful death. Their own self interest, therefore, leads people to suspect that perhaps the apples they are offering are poisoned.

          It's also important to note that in both of the cases where they've done this, the contribution wasn't a general "here's some improvements" code, it was "here is some code which would allow you to work better with our proprietary services, so more people would be willing to use those." Anyone who thinks that Microsoft would continue to maintain such interoperability code should it prove a disadvantage to MS should avoid real estate brokers with deals concerning bridges.

          • It's also important to note that in both of the cases where they've done this, the contribution wasn't a general "here's some improvements" code, it was "here is some code which would allow you to work better with our proprietary services, so more people would be willing to use those."

            You mean like this [ibm.com] where IBM ported a bunch of Linux development tools to AIX so that more people would develop apps for their proprietary system?

            • by Chyeld (713439)

              Not exactly sure the point you are attempting to make here since the project you've pointed to is just one of legion among the projects IBM has helps with in regards to open source.

        • Unlike Red Hat, Sun, Novel, IBM, etc which are just contributing to Linux and other open source through pure altruism!

          True, but these companies generally collaborate with each other (these days) in a reasonably friendly way, whereas collaborating with MS has usually given a good chance of finding a knife sticking our of your back.

    • by dword (735428) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:34AM (#28781549)

      This is the change some of us wanted and I believe it to be a very good one! Why would anyone have the right to force Microsoft to contribute to open-source? What we really needed was compatibility. Nobody cares about the way Microsoft manages its code and nobody should have the right to bother them about it.

      • Why would anyone have the right to force Microsoft to contribute to open-source?

        No one wants to force them, any more than they want to force their kids to be good upstanding citizens. On the contrary, we kind of hope that, at some point, they'll become mature enough within themselves, and develop some decency, to be able to show respect and concern for others.

    • by intx13 (808988) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:42AM (#28781689) Homepage

      Like their previous driver offering, it's not a wholehearted contribution to making an open source project better, but instead just a thing to make microsoft's own services work better when people need to use open source.

      Microsoft is a corporation, after all, and I would be very surprised to see them expending resources working on open source projects that they do not actually use. This could be a gateway, a toe in the water, to starting open source projects, which then of course they would contribute to. But unlike IBM, (former) Sun, etc, Microsoft has no ties to existing open source software, so not contributing to the same isn't too surprising.

      It's good to see a willingness to do even this much, but hardly a staggering change of heart. They've a long way to go yet.

      I suppose you could say that. I think the point here is not that Microsoft is releasing something under an open source license, but that Microsoft sees open source as a viable approach to softare development and a real business force. Typically we expect the company to brush off open source as "anti-American" and offer pricey, Windows-only alternatives to whatever the demand might be. But now they are admitting, in a business sense, that the open source market exists and is worth working with. Sure, they're doing this to increase interoperability with their existing, closed-source projects... but that's more than just a token move.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PitaBred (632671)

        But now they are admitting, in a business sense, that the open source market exists

        I'm with you so far

        and is worth working with

        Ahhh... I'm gonna have to disagree with you there, sport. Microsoft sees open source as existing, and wants to co-opt it, just like the co-opted the browser market, they're trying to do it with the search market, the office software market, they tried to do with Java... they're only playing nicely with open source in order to lock it into their proprietary identification servers. Trying to leverage their LiveID inertia to gain access to another market, and hopefully end up with de facto c

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Like their previous driver offering, it's not a wholehearted contribution to making an open source project better, but instead just a thing to make microsoft's own services work better when people need to use open source.

      But when IBM contributes code to Linux and other open source projects it's not because they just want their services to work better with open source and thus make more money for themselves?

    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:49AM (#28781803)
      Why the hell should they contribute to any project in a way that doesnt firmly, 100% front and center benefit themselves? There is no requirement for contributions to be altruistic in any way, shape or form.
    • by houghi (78078)

      If they could do the same for Outlook, it would mean a lot more to me.

    • by immakiku (777365) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @11:22AM (#28782341)

      This is not about a willingness to do anything. Microsoft's goal, like that of all corporations is to make profit for its shareholders. It's not about good or bad intentions, so please stop trying to interpret it in that context. The general public should be pretty pissed if corporations like Microsoft decided to have a "change of heart" and focused on making things open instead of making money, because each member of the general public could very well be partial owners of those corporations.

      The thing we actually should want to see is a situation where it makes more sense for Microsoft to promote open source. An example of such a situation is if the rate and state of development for Linux demonstrate how well open source models can work. It would be unreasonable and unrealistic to expect to see Microsoft promote open source out of a sense of nobility.

      • It's not about good or bad intentions, so please stop trying to interpret it in that context.

        Then outlaw corporations from doing things like public service announcements. I believe the last one I saw ended the announcement with "CBS Cares". Everything you said means nothing until then.

        It's hard for people to judge things straight with propaganda like that.

    • Like their previous driver offering, it's not a wholehearted contribution to making an open source project better, but instead just a thing to make microsoft's own services work better when people need to use open source.

      WTF? Isn't that the major motivation of pretty much all corporate contributions: making a project work better with their offerings? IBM didn't release NUMA code because it made them feel all happy and rainbowish; they released it so Linux would be more attractive on their hardware. Yeah, MS gave out code that benefits them, just like everyone else. Provide a counterexample or quit harping on this.

      I don't even like MS, but don't invent reasons to dislike them!

    • by Eil (82413)

      This is an moodle plugin for microsoft's own groupware. Like their previous driver offering, it's not a wholehearted contribution to making an open source project better, but instead just a thing to make microsoft's own services work better when people need to use open source.

      After over a decade of hearing about it, Microsoft is finally just starting to realize that they can't play the vendor lock-in game as hard as they used to and still retain customers. It's just not a Microsoft world any more. They want

  • by toby (759) * on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:18AM (#28781325) Homepage Journal

    Not everyone was fooled. Apenwarr [alumnit.ca] wrote about it, for one.

    This is still Microsoft, folks. It's always a trap.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Yvanhoe (564877)
      I honestly believe that Microsoft and Microsoft people (which represent a lot of people and even a lot of sub-community considering the number of "labs" they own) are finally "getting it". I think these attempts are honest and that they are jealous of the community other OSS-friendly companies managed to build.

      I also believe that tit-for-that is one of the most winning strategy in the prisonner's dilemma game. They'll have to do a lot more effort before I consider them worthy of trust.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anarchduke (1551707)
        Of course they get it. They get that with virtualization you don't need to update the drivers for windows xp, you could run it forever on a linux box, and only worry about updating the drivers in linux to match your hardware. thus people could have the latest hardware and run xp virtualized.

        of course, the host operating system has to stay current, and with Micro$oft already pressuring vendors to stop making XP drivers, its the host operating system that becomes important.

        Read toby's comment and follow
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by jipn4 (1367823)

          of course, the host operating system has to stay current, and with Micro$oft already pressuring vendors to stop making XP drivers, its the host operating system that becomes important.

          Important for what exactly?

          Imagine a world in which Windows becomes little more than a BIOS for Linux. Do you really think Microsoft will be able to charge a lot of money for that?

          Microsoft has been able to monopolize the market because they controlled everything. But their fortress is crumbling. The fact that they are rele

    • Hm.

      This is still Apple, folks. It's always a trap.

      This is still Novell, folks. It's always a trap.

      This is still [a company meant gain profit], folks. It's always a trap.

      Somehow, I'm fairly certain that no company that wants to profit from software sales is going to pass up an opportunity to allow popular software to be used and NOT be compatible with their own software? Oh. It's a trap. It can't be simple profit-driven motives...

  • by ChoboMog (917656) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:19AM (#28781351)
    I don't know... It looks like its going to drop a few degrees overnight. http://www.weathercity.com/us/mi/hell/ [weathercity.com]
  • by Canazza (1428553) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:29AM (#28781485)

    AS far as I'm aware, the only thing they have for Moodle is a Windows Live Plugin, that lets you do Windows Live Searches and have some sort of MSN Messnger functionality.

    This isn't Microsoft caring about GPL or whatever, it's about a small project that gives them more hooks into more websites. It gives people learning to use the web in a formal environment MORE Microsoft.

    • by jipn4 (1367823)

      This isn't Microsoft caring about GPL or whatever, it's about a small project that gives them more hooks into more websites.

      Sure, but it's a start. They used to proclaim that the GPL was somewhere between the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf.

      And they have released genuinely useful software, too, like IronPython.

  • AFAIK, it looks like a moodle plugin to allow the use of the "live" services in Moodle, including to allow single sign in.

    Obviously this is to help locking the users since early on to MS services. Not evil in itself (and I suppose that either google has the same thing or is thinking in doing the same). But it mostly benefits MS, not Moodle.

  • If you modify their code and try to distribute it you will be forced to release the source--and they will take it back! :D

  • What a shocker, Microsoft releases something using that dangerous viral license GPL. Well at least, dangerous and viral according to Microsoft.

  • by mrpacmanjel (38218) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:57AM (#28781925)

    I think this is part of a larger strategy to point people to thier Azure "Cloud" platform.

    Microsoft will probably "open source" more of thier software if it serves the purpose of exposing Microsoft to more people.

    If you expect them to one day open source any of thier major technologies (e.g. DirectX, Windows or SQL Server) you will be waiting a loooonnnng time before this will happen.

    They will probably open source enough of the "connectivity" type of software to provide a "path of least resistance" to interoperate *into* the Azure platform.

    Of course the Azure platform is *not* open source which means you will be *locked-into* thier technology. So sure, you may have open source client code at your disposal but it eventually will lead into a locked platform.

    As a company they want to grow beyond "PC on every desk, Windows on every PC, on every phone, console, toaster, gerbil" - that's too limiting now, they want to be the central hub of the Internet and fully exploit "the cloud".

    As a bonus everyone moves to a rental model (like the mainframes of years ago) - you don't own anything, you are bound by *thier* "terms and conditions" and you perpetually keep paying for stuff.

    This is a corporation's wet dream.

    In this case "It's a Trap" may be justified.

    Or I am just paranoid and drink waaaayyy too much coffee.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by spitzak (4019)

      However an open-source client to their software means they cannot hide how to interoperate, and they cannot prevent other software from using this code. I suspect it does not cover a lot of the interoperation, but the code is probably also a big help for reverse engineering.

      Microsoft could compete without shenanigans if they would document how to interoperate and license that information for everybody to use. Releasing this information as open source licensed code is a good way to do it, as the documentatio

      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        If Linux could run DirectX programs legally and with the api fully documented, it would still have a hard time if it ran them 10 times slower, due to some clever piece of internal code that some engineer at Microsoft invented, for instance much faster antialiasing. This is fair competition. I think some engineers at Microsoft are interested in this as well, I would be, it is insulting that any actual talent is invisible because it is totally impossible for anybody to make a competing implementation.

        And yet

  • for doing it right and not using GPLv3 just because it's newer! It is useless to have open source software available for your use if its license is fundamentally incompatible with your business. Of course, it would be even nicer if they released software under an even freer license i.e. BSD or similar, but I think the only thing preventing that is those licenses not having the buzzwordiness of GPL.

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      The question is, did they leave the 'upgrade' part of the license in, thus allowing it to be used with GPLv3 code too.

    • by Vexorian (959249)
      Err, you just called the BSD a freer license than the GPL, this shows so much lack of understanding on the subject... Are you a troll? Or just plain ignorant of what these licenses are? You also think that MS did any good picking GPLv2 instead of v3, and you complain about they not choosing a 'free-er' license. This shows your own lack of understanding of something that should be obvious by now: Moodle is licensed GPLv2, MS wanted to push Moodle into their live service BS, so they HAD to use GPLv2. They di
  • Given the trend towards open source software, Microsoft really has to come on board to remain competitive. Unfortunately, M$ is slowly losing its own Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt campaign and must ultimately concede that free/open source software is not "un-American." Actually, free/open source software is very much American as it is open and returns control back to the individual. If America was founded on individualism, then free/open source software should epitomise "Americanness" I also don't doubt
  • This is a good thing, but I do have some concerns. I'm a moodle admin at my college's online learning program. We've been using moodle for a year and a half now. Our IT dept. (separate from us) eats everything Microsoft, and went to Live Mail last year for our mail solution. This will enable us to at least avoid having to have two separate sites for the LMS & email. Maybe it will also pave the way for integrating Microsoft live apps (Word, excel, ppt online) in the courses, and hopefully serve as a file
  • The only reason microsoft made the last two contributions is because the products are popular and they did not have a presence. For them to stay "required" they have to participate. Those areas are Open Source so the contributions have to be open too. If there are no applications for Moodle that rely on windows, microsoft could loose it's "it requires windows" desktop status in the schools. Schools are the last place Microsoft would like to find themselves unneeded.

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