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Microsoft Open Source Software Windows News

Windows 8 Store Will Allow Open Source Apps 333

Posted by Soulskill
from the dogs-and-cats-living-together dept.
MrSeb writes "Some interesting legalese found in the recent publication of the Windows Store Application Developer Agreement could signify a very big win for the open source community. The section in question states that apps released under a license from the Open Source Initiative (GPL, Apache, etc.) can be distributed in the Windows Store. Further, it says that the OSI license will trump the Microsoft Standard Application License Terms, namely the the restriction on sharing applications. As for the reasoning behind this big about-turn, it could be down to Microsoft trying to soften the blow of its Android patent litigation — or maybe Redmond is just trying to differentiate itself from Apple, which famously restricts open source-licensed apps from being sold in its iOS and Mac App Stores."
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Windows 8 Store Will Allow Open Source Apps

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  • by InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) on Monday December 12, 2011 @03:43PM (#38346380)

    As for the reasoning behind this big about-turn, it could be down to Microsoft trying to soften the blow of its Android patent litigation — or maybe Redmond is just trying to differentiate itself from Apple, which famously restricts open source-licensed apps from being sold in its iOS and Mac App Stores.

    Or what about if Microsoft just doesn't have anything against open source projects? They have several ones themselves [codeplex.com], have helped writing some Linux code and in every other way have softened themselves about open source.

    Microsoft has never really locked down their desktop OS either. It has always been open in a way that it lets you run anything you want. Be it open source or proprietary code. Microsoft doesn't care - they're primarily selling their OS, and their OS has always came with the promise of you're being able to run anything you want. That is also why Windows has such a large market place for all kinds of applications and games. Being able to run anything you want, from any vendor you want, has always been one of the largest selling points of Windows.

    Allowing open source programs isn't really problem for Microsoft..
    - Linux still cannot compete on desktop. Much larger competitor to MS is OSX, and even then MS does programs for Mac too.
    - As far as mobiles go, Microsoft already gets lots of money for every Android device sold. Microsoft wins in either case, be it Android or Windows Phone that is selling better.
    - OpenOffice is a toy compared to MS Office. It's missing lots of features, isn't user friendly, it's slow and generally just works badly.
    - Visual Studio is much better programming IDE than open source ones, especially when you add visualAssist to it.
    - There isn't any open source competitors for Xbox 360. None.

    It isn't about "softening the blow" or anything to those lines. Microsoft has just seen that open source really cannot compete with quality products.

    • by webmistressrachel (903577) on Monday December 12, 2011 @03:48PM (#38346448) Journal

      Hmmm, I was taken in right up until the end where you said that "open source really cannot compete with quality products"!

      Nice bit of flamebait for Mozilla, Apache, Google devs to be trolled by, if I do say so myself!

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Looking at what Firefox has become, I'm not so sure. Sure, there are some good open source products, but they're usually backed by huge corporations like Google or Apple. They both contribute to Webkit and Chromium. Firefox comes from Netscape and is currently a joke. Apache is backed by huge companies [apache.org].

        Apart from those, are there actually open source projects that can compete with proprietary counterparts? Especially on less popular niches like industry products or games (even though games is a popular ni
      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Microsoft (oddly enough) has a more inclusive notion of what it's ecosystem should include and tolerates "duplicate functionality" much more than Apple does. Microsoft's platform benefits from Free Software including stuff that Lemmings would be prone to accuse of "being shoddy".

        Microsoft (oddly enough) is less arrogant and seems less inclined to pointlessly shoot itself in the foot.

    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday December 12, 2011 @03:49PM (#38346458) Journal

      Microsoft has just seen that open source really cannot compete with quality products.

      Mod parent funny.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      because their competitors are getting stronger (Mac, Linux, Google).

      Actually I like the "new Microsoft". They seem a great deal more willing to engage in community process than they used to.

    • by willaien (2494962) on Monday December 12, 2011 @03:50PM (#38346484)
      Huge agreement on Visual Studio being superior to pretty much any other IDE I've ever encountered, but, I'll disagree with a few other points: - OpenOffice is, by and large, more than sufficient for most users. Yes, a few things are missing, but, for the average user, they wouldn't miss those features. - Microsoft would likely prefer that Android didn't exist and that they could corner that market. It's not just the money from sales, it's losing some developers to mobile phones, and not to -Microsoft- mobile phones. This likely doesn't sit well with them, for various reasons. While I don't think this is a "Post-PC" world, yet, Microsoft would do well to try to innovate and gain market share in the tablet and phone arenas.
      • by Tharsman (1364603)

        OpenOffice is, by and large, more than sufficient for most users.

        If you you going to place the "more than sufficient" conditional, you can say the same about Notepad or Wordpad for word processing.

        I personally just love Excel and would not replace it for any other spreadsheet if I have the financial stance to do so (and I have OpenOffice in my home machines.)

        Word is also a great word processor. A bit bloated (and thats being kind) but the spell shecking and proofing tools are the best out there. For "prettier" letters, though, I rather use Apple's Pages.

        Access... hmmm..

        • by Tharsman (1364603)

          Talking of spell checkers.... ugh... forgot to run this through one...

        • It also bothers me that, should I want Excel, I'm forced to buy all of office. I cant just buy Excel.

          You are wrong. In fact, you can buy just Excel [microsoftstore.com]. It's just that it will cost you $139.99; at that price point, most people would spend the extra money to get all of Office.

          • To be clear, when I say "all of Office," I mean Office for Home and Business [microsoftstore.com] or Office for Mac for Home and Business [microsoftstore.com], both $199.99 and including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook.

          • by Tharsman (1364603)

            Its hard to keep track of that. I know they often back in and out of individual sales, but never have I seen them offer the tool at an acceptable price.

            Also the linked seem to be PC only. I cant seem to find Excel Mac for standalone sale. Not that I think it would be woth it, the Home edition allows 3 users, 3 macs, and incluedes the usual trinity for 149.95.

        • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday December 12, 2011 @04:46PM (#38347254) Homepage

          >> OpenOffice is, by and large, more than sufficient for most users.
          >
          > If you you going to place the "more than sufficient"
          > conditional, you can say the same about Notepad or
          > Wordpad for word processing.

          So?

          The fact remains that there's no good reason for the vast majority of people to be subjected "Word Perfect wannabes". The same mental block that prevents people from using LibreOffice prevent them from using any other of a wide array of suitable alternatives. Some of those are even commercial.

          • by Tharsman (1364603)

            So?

            When someone says "this is the best tool available", you can’t say "that’s not true, because this one is sufficient". You CAN say it's sufficient and leave it at that, but that tool being sufficient does not nullify the statement of the other tool being "the best."

            The fact remains that there's no good reason for the vast majority of people to be subjected "Word Perfect wannabes".

            I don’t think it was called that in this thread. Just a toy compared to word. Got to say it’s rather true. In 2011, OpenOffice and LibreOffice both feel as if they were 1995 software. It’s usable. As I noted, I use it

      • It's not so much an issue with the features as it is an issue with OpenOffice formatting documents like a blind walrus vomiting words onto the tundra.

    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday December 12, 2011 @03:56PM (#38346576) Homepage

      Visual Studio is much better programming IDE than open source ones, especially when you add visualAssist to it.

      *sigh*
      /goes back to adding a debug printf in gedit.

    • by Alwin Henseler (640539) on Monday December 12, 2011 @04:01PM (#38346634) Homepage

      Or what about if Microsoft just doesn't have anything against open source projects?

      More precisely: maybe MS doesn't have anything against open source projects that don't compete with their own products. Another option might be that Apple is a bigger evil to MS than making room for a few open source apps in their app store. Or MS fears losing their share in some markets & makes some concessions in order to stay relevant.

      Microsoft has never really locked down their desktop OS either. It has always been open in a way that it lets you run anything you want. Be it open source or proprietary code. Microsoft doesn't care - they're primarily selling their OS, and their OS has always came with the promise of you're being able to run anything you want. That is also why Windows has such a large market place for all kinds of applications and games. Being able to run anything you want, from any vendor you want, has always been one of the largest selling points of Windows.

      That's just flamebait... The primary reason for MS being dominant on the desktop is that newly bought computers nearly always come with it pre-installed, people got used to it, and it's good enough. Combined with a hefty dose of marketing, and perhaps a shady deal or two to make life hard for competitors. The landscape is changing, but anyone who believes otherwise is an idiot.

      • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Monday December 12, 2011 @04:17PM (#38346826) Journal

        More precisely: maybe MS doesn't have anything against open source projects that don't compete with their own products.

        More precisely: maybe MS doesn't have anything against projects that don't compete with their own products.

        Lets face it, in capitalism, no mater how much they claim otherwise, all companies hate competition against their products/services. And I don't believe MS has ever been dishonest enough claim or insinuate otherwise. They don't care about the source of the competition (open or closed), merely the quality and aggressiveness.

      • by ByOhTek (1181381)

        Oh, and I know a lot of people who use windows, not because of what you said, but because it suits their purposes better, with them having to spend less time working about making the computer run, and more time doing what they want with the computer. And, yeah, I use windows because the large amount of software with the highest (ease of use * features)/flaws ratio that I find there, better than the alternatives. However, in some cases, I use FreeBSD or Linux because for what I want to do, they have the bet

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          > but because it suits their purposes better

          No. Probably not. It's merely the "default option" and "they can't be bothered" to try anything else.

          This is how you end up with MS-DOS almost putting Apple out of business.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by msobkow (48369)

      As of Gnome 2.0 and KDE 3, Linux was more than capable of providing an acceptable desktop user experience, especially Ubuntu's releases. Unfortunately the very latest releases don't support my Logitech Track Ball, so I use an older 10.04.1 release which still has a couple glitches with the trackball support as well, but I can't fault Linux as a whole for me wanting to use a 12+ year old "mouse".

      Open Office/Office Libre are more than adequate for the vast majority of home users. The extra "features" in

      • by Quila (201335)

        Gnome 2.0 and KDE 3 depends on your definition of "Acceptable." Definitely not acceptable for me, Gnome 3 is acceptable, if I don't mind grinding my teeth a bit. But I'd rather not do even that.

        OpenOffice/etc may be technically acceptable by feature list, but regardless of actual feature count it still sucks. I used it for quite a while before I finally gave in and got MS Office, not for features that OO didn't have, but for plain old usability.

    • by camcorder (759720)

      - Linux still cannot compete on desktop. Much larger competitor to MS is OSX, and even then MS does programs for Mac too.

      For me it competes pretty well. I used Linux desktop (Gnome on Fedora) both on my desktop and laptop. After the web era I never need a Windows OS for any reason. I don't say Windows is obsolete, of course it has niche stuff for some people. But it's non-sense to say Linux can't compete on desktop. I have to say that using a Gnome desktop (and I'm sure KDE is on par) is a lot easier than using Windows' interface. That's even true for those got used to Windows way of doing things. Currently Linux desktop is

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by NatasRevol (731260)

      What if Apple doesn't have anything against open source projects?

      In fact, they contribute a LOT to open source.

      http://opensource.apple.com/ [apple.com]

      • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday December 12, 2011 @04:59PM (#38347430) Homepage

        You have a strange idea of "contributing".

        They BAN it from their devices.

        That's what this article is about.

        More accurately, Apple "takes advantage" of rather than "contributes to" open source. So do actual Apple and Microsoft users. Although it seems that Microsoft is more comfortable with this.

        They are willing to leave the likes of ffmpeg and vlc and xbmc alone and not actively prevent their users from installing them.

    • As far as mobiles go, Microsoft already gets lots of money for every Android device sold. Microsoft wins in either case, be it Android or Windows Phone that is selling better.

      Who is paying Microsoft for Android aside Microsoft's own existing vendors who do not want to bite the hand that feeds them? And does that amount exceed what they've payed Nokia to put Windows OS on Nokia's phones? I doubt it.

      And who else will pay Microsoft for Android now that Barnes & Noble broke the confidentiality agreement and let the cat out of the bag? Did you read Microsot's ridiculous patent claims, and the actual dates they filed their patents on? With all the prior art, their patent won't far

    • by peppepz (1311345)

      have helped writing some Linux code

      Please. They've dumped code in the Linux kernel to let Linux run under one of their own products. And they were required to do so by the GPL license. In the meantime, they're suing any company trying to actually use the Linux kernel in commercial products without giving them money.

      Microsoft has never really locked down their desktop OS either. It has always been open in a way that it lets you run anything you want. Be it open source or proprietary code.

      That's true un

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday December 12, 2011 @03:50PM (#38346488)

    Not sure where you got your information from, but Apple does not disallow open source apps from the app store at all. The iOS development community in fact is heavily based on numerous open source libraries that everyone uses...

    You may have been mistaken from the case of VLC, which was pulled because of a copyright claim made by one of the VLC developers. It was not pulled because it was open source.

    So it's nice that Microsoft will offer the same opportunity to open source developers, but hardly unique.

    • by Tharsman (1364603) on Monday December 12, 2011 @04:09PM (#38346732)

      There are some issues with a very specific open source license and the Apple App store. All apps in the app store have a non-obtrusive DRM in them, this means you can’t hand someone a copy of the free app you downloaded.

      Mind you, you are entirely free to give the link to someone for them to download entirely free of charge, just as you did, but a version of the GPL license specifically dictates you can’t block the user's ability to redistribute himself. Even if Apple did have the said DRM, they also don’t allow you to install software from alternate sources, so that also hinders a user's ability to redistribute.

      So the question is: will the windows app store give developers a flag they can set to not include a DRM in the specific app? And will they allow (in tablets) to install software from other sources? As it stands now, the Windows Phone 7 store should not be compatible with these specific clauses either (even with the sanctioned jailbreak available.)

      • by BitZtream (692029) on Monday December 12, 2011 @04:21PM (#38346886)

        So what you're saying is that GPL is incompatible with the app store, not that the app store is incompatible with open source.

        GPL is designed to not work with things like the app store, its funny when it works as intended people blame the other guy for the fact that its a rather restrictive license.

        • by Tharsman (1364603)

          So what you're saying is that GPL is incompatible with the app store, not that the app store is incompatible with open source.

          Thats exactly what I'm saying, yes. :)

          GPL is designed to not work with things like the app store, its funny when it works as intended people blame the other guy for the fact that its a rather restrictive license.

          I personally am not fond of the GPL. If you want to be all hardcore about software freedom, you dont hold hostage the user about him also being equally hardcore.

        • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday December 12, 2011 @05:03PM (#38347496) Homepage

          Who came first?

          GNU and the GPL has been around since Apple was still selling 8-bit computers.

          It was Apple that decided to build a walled garden that clearly excludes Free Software. If you try to discriminate, you are the one at fault. You're trying to blame the victim.

      • There are some issues with a very specific open source license and the Apple App store.

        In practice I have seen no issue. However, as you note there's a potential problem only with a specific license (the GPL) which certainly dismisses the original claim that Apple disallows open source apps from the app store. You'd have to make the claim Apple disallows GPL apps from the app store, but you can't even make that claim since it is not true to date.

        All apps in the app store have a non-obtrusive DRM in them,

        • by Tharsman (1364603)

          First note I actually agree with you in that Apple is not anti-open source. Heck, look at webkit!!!

          But there is something you are wrong there about, and not because of any apple issues but because of GPL wording.

          I don’t know the exact details, but from all I have gathered the point is that anything you do with a GPL licensed codebase needs to be redistributable in its final form, on top of granting access to the source code. Giving access to the source code and telling the user he can compile and then

      • by mark-t (151149)
        It's worth noting that requiring royalties on binary redistribution also blocks a person's ability to distribute a derived work... so this is not a problem unique to the GPL. Regardless of the licensing, open or closed source, a person needs permission to distribute copies of somebody else's copyrighted work, even if they are wanting to bundle their own copyrighted content with it.
        • by Tharsman (1364603)

          The App Store actually accomodates for that by allowing the software to be entirely free. Apple does not collect any kind of comission or fee from free app distribution.

    • It's a semantic argument. No, Apple doesn't specifically outlaw open-source programs from its app stores; however, its license agreement is in direct conflict with the GPL (and probably other open-source licenses). That doesn't mean there aren't GPL programs in the app store, but it does mean the people that put them there are violating the GPL.

    • I haven't read Microsoft's new terms, so I can't comment on them, but the iOS app store is incompatible with the terms of the GPL.

      The App Store terms and conditions [apple.com] does allow for a third party license agreement (including FLOSS licenses) to be substituted for their default LICENSED APPLICATION END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT. However only that one section of the terms and services is substituted; the rest of it remains in force. The GPL prohibits you from placing any further restrictions than those in the GPL,

  • by msobkow (48369) on Monday December 12, 2011 @03:51PM (#38346512) Homepage Journal

    I think Microsoft is acknowledging something more important: that many good products are developed under open source licenses, but sold and maintained under commercial terms, a hybrid of philosophies that allows the programmers to keep eating!

    As it turns out the patents Microsoft is pursing have nothing to do with the Linux kernel, GPL'd utilities, or Java implementation, the Microsoft lawsuits are just "business as usual" for the telecommunications industry as it has been for decades. The lawsuits are punishing; they're just the way telcos and their technology companies have dealt with the business landscape for decades. It's not a "nice" way of doing business, but it is "a" way of doing business.

    • by JAlexoi (1085785)

      As it turns out the patents Microsoft is pursing have nothing to do with the Linux kernel

      Yes, specifically the long filename in FAT patent.... Oh, wait.... It is Linux kernel related!

  • And yet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Monday December 12, 2011 @03:52PM (#38346518) Journal
    these are the same set of bastards that not only pulled illegal actions on Dr. Dos, Stacker, Novell, Netscape, Linux, but AS SOON as the feds released them from being monitored, they went right back to their old trick with Attacking Android via a number of questionable approaches.

    I would have to say that any OSS developer, if not any developer, that works on MS is just plain foolish.
    • Re:And yet (Score:4, Interesting)

      by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortexNO@S ... t-retrograde.com> on Monday December 12, 2011 @04:28PM (#38347000)

      While I agree to a degree, I have to point out that my open source applications run on Linux, Mac and Windows because I ACTUALLY care about customer freedoms. Why SHOULDN'T I accept patches to get my code running on windows?

      I wouldn't call that foolish. I'd call it: Complete & total disdain of any OS loyalty whatsoever. If every dev worked this way there would never be a situation where you're forced to stop using the software you want/need just because you have issues with the underlying OS.

      At the end of the day, there's a Windows user who tripple-boots Linux & Mac too, and he wants to use the FLOSS software I wrote for use with Linux on Windows. I believe it would be foolish to limit my exposure & thus donations. In fact, I think it foolish to ignore significant market segments altogether for trivial reasons. Even more foolish would be to fragment the user base and cause a fork due to my own OS preferences.

      I'm not saying I'm going to distribute my applications in the Windows 8 store, but if anyone else wants to, and they can satisfy the AGPLv3 requirements, have at it.

  • Microsoft has language in its agreement that excludes GPL [theregister.co.uk].
    • Re:Not GPL (Score:5, Informative)

      by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@co[ ]et ['x.n' in gap]> on Monday December 12, 2011 @03:59PM (#38346610)

      GPL v2 or v3?

      Sounds perfectly compatible with V2.

    • by mark-t (151149)
      Applying the GPL to a work that depends on a non-GPL'd work does not make the non-GPL'd work subject to the GPL. The decision to GPL software is exclusively the prerogative of the person who has the copyright on the software. A person cannot choose to make a derived work of GPL'd work non-GPL because as a derived work, it is subject to the constraints that any derived work under perfectly ordinary copyright law would have to follow anyways. and the creator of any derived work must always obtain permission
  • Open source licenses themselves restrict distribution in Apple's store. See VLC for iOS. Apple had no problem distributing it on the app store. It was developer infighting about licensing that resulted in VLC themselves making the request to take it down.

    • by amliebsch (724858)

      Okay, so it is more accurate to say that Apple doesn't *accomodate* open-source licenses (particularly GPL it would seem.) But Microsoft does. That's still noteworthy.

      • "Okay, so it is more accurate to say that Apple doesn't *accomodate* open-source licenses (particularly GPL it would seem.) But Microsoft does. That's still noteworthy."

        Define "accommodate". The only issue it seems is that it's not possible to load a re-linked executable onto a device with a developer account. Besides that, on iOS, Apple does nothing to stop open source distribution. You're free to distribute source, and you can distribute your executable unsigned outside of the app store (leaving the user

        • by mark-t (151149)

          ...and you can distribute your executable unsigned outside of the app store...

          By my understanding, only to jailbroken devices.

          There are a handful of compelling reasons to not jailbreak, and even more to not expect all of your users to be comfortable with it.

          • A few things here. We're talking about the Windows 8 store. Mac OS X lets you run unsigned code perfectly fine. If we want to talk about mobile, Microsoft also does not allow for unsigned code.

            Second, if the user can resign the code with a developer cert, they can run it on their device.

    • The licensing for these open source was done years ago. Two decades at this point in the case of the GPLv2, the world's most popular software license... well before iOS even existed. Apple designed their licensing for the iOS and Mac App Stores so that they are incompatible with said license. That's their own fault. So, even though a couple VLC devs tried to put it in the store, they didn't get the permission of all the copyright holders to violate the terms of the GPL and do so. Thus, those devs and A
  • by forkfail (228161) on Monday December 12, 2011 @04:09PM (#38346728)

    Kind of makes me wonder about a few things concerning the App Store and Visual Studio licensing.

    Since the app store will be able to kill apps [slashdot.org], will they use stricter controls on ownership of their compiler, or will they lower the price and open it up in hopes of pulling open source devs away from the Linux world and also increasing the number of available apps?

    Will someone with a student license be able to freely disseminate compiled programs?

    Would they be far sighted enough to allow a low price version of the IDE/compiler that isn't allowed to be used for generation of programs for sale, but is for free apps on the app store? (Given that they can kill apps, they could easily ensure that for-pay apps are compiled with a properly licensed version of the compiler; I'm sure they could embed that or have some validation process as part of their licensed developer program or whatever...)

  • Ok, I'm naive and over 19. Can someone explain what these stores do and their purpose? There's one in Macs now but it seems pointless. We've already had online stores for applications. Maybe it's because these are "apps" and not full applications, a place to sell demos? Maybe this is the updated version of DOS shareware community (awful programs promoted as shareware because people thought they could get rich). I visited the Mac store and can't figure out the appeal, mostly mini games of the sort you'

    • If you are a Linux person think of the store like a commercial+ software repository, where you can buy and then download/install via the internet, and if it is a perfect world you will be pushed timely updates on what you bought, so things don't break due to incompatibility. This does include full blown commercial programs, and all the restrictions that come with them (if not more as it is internet delivered/maintained.)

      Some of the most obvious benefits:

      a) can offer some cool software right at the get go (

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