back to article Microsoft tells GPLv3 to talk to the hand

We were all wondering what Microsoft would do about GPLv3. Turns out the firm wants nothing to do with it, and has issued a statement outlining exactly how it plans to ignore the new license. It also rejects any suggestion that the GPLv3 will have any effect on its patent immunity deal with Novell. In a statement, the firm …


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  1. Al

    End of Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications?

    I suppose that means an end to updates of the MS Subsystem for UNIX-based applications then. It's mostly GNU projects which will probably be among the first to switch to GPLv3, but are currently licensed under "GPLv2 or later."

  2. Don Mitchell

    Free, as in do what Stallman says

    Open source licenses have become such an entanglement of restrictions and fine print, why would anyone go near that stuff? Some companies now use software that automatically scans their projects, using a database of open-source licenses, to make sure they are not in violation. Make a mistake and the lawyers at GNU's freedom taskforce comes after you. This is freedom?

  3. Richard Kay

    Free v Proprietary licenses

    Dear Don Mitchell,

    "Open source licenses have become such an entanglement of restrictions and fine print, why would anyone go near that stuff?"

    So when did you last read a proprietary license ? And if you really can't understand a Free Software Foundation approved license (which I take you to mean when you use the term: open source for which there is no universal agreement) then what chance do you have of knowing or learning how to program anyway ? And if you are not able to program then why should anyone else care what you think about free software licenses ?

    If all you do is download and use free and/or proprietary software and you don't write, modify or distribute software, then by definition free software licenses don't affect you, and ( assuming from the fact that you posted here that you capable of using a computer) the proprietary licenses are the only ones that do. So are you really trying to persuade us that you read and understand all the licenses of non-free software that you use ?

    I for one am going to be releasing all the software I design and fully control under the GPL 3 when next versioned or released, because this license gives me as a programmer the best chances of getting something useful back in return for what I find to be in my best interests freely to give away. There are other free software licenses I use where I link my programs with software released by other programmers under other free licenses that require I adopt the same, but this primarily moral but also legal requirement of sharing alike isn't exactly difficult compared to the art of programming itself.

    Besides which I've never heard of any programmer or distributor let alone user being sued simply because they don't understand these rules of etiquette acceptable within the free software community. But those with legally accessible assets who persist in violating free software license terms and conditions despite being given prior notice of the illegality of their actions are fair game.

    It's really quite simple - if you needed a license to download and use free software or modify it for your own use it wouldn't be free as in your freedom. You only need a license to distribute it and to distribute it in modified form, and then only to make sure that those you distribute it to get the same freedoms you got.

    The other GPL 3 restrictions prevent you from using technical loopholes and patents to make sure you as a distributor keep your side of this bargain - and I really can't imagine anyone can fall foul of this without knowing what they are doing.

  4. Don Mitchell

    Programming Freely

    Your rambling comment exemplifies what I was talking about. Rules, rules, rules. If I write an original C++ program on my PC, running windows, I can do absolutely anything with it. There is no license that comes with Windows or Visual Studio that restricts my right to sell, give away, patent, not patent, keep trade secrets, publish the source code on my blog. That is considerably more freedom that I have if I use GPL 3.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Programming Freely

    Don "If I write an original C++ program on my PC, running windows, I can do absolutely anything with it" Mitchell obviously didn't read this one...

    Evidently there is plenty in the license that comes with Visual Studio...

  6. Colin Sharples


    Don - what a load of shite.

    You obviously haven't the faintest idea what GPL is about. There is nothing - absolutely nothing - in any free/open source license that restricts you the way you say.

    If I use a GPL library to write an original program that has nothing to do with the library itself, then I can do whatever I want with it, just as you can with the Windows libraries.

    If, on the other hand, I write an *extension* to that GPL library, say by providing extra functionality that other users of that library might find useful, then I can STILL do whatever I like with it - sell it, give it away free, print it out and make papier mache puppets, whatever. All I have to do is license my derivative work under the GPL and publish the source code.

    Try doing that with a Windows library. Go on, I dare you.

  7. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    To Don Mitchell

    You misunderstand what the GPL licence is about - I suspect you've read too much of that FUD that comes out of Redmond !

    You can write any program you like, and having written that program you can do whatever you like with it and licence it to others (or not) in any way you like - yes all that using free llicence tools. You can also take any GPL program and modify it for your OWN use without any restrictions or any requirement to make that changed software available to anyone else.

    What the GPL (and other free licences) do is say that if you want to incorporate someone elses work into yours AND distribute it, then you can no longer limit what others can do with it. If you don't want to be bound by it then all you have to do is not include someone elses work in yours ! In effect, it's designed so that some big corporation can't simply take a load of open source programs, package them up and try to pass them off as their own work and restrict what others can do with them (yes, I really have seen boxes running Linux where the vendor claims all rights to what's in the box !)

    To put this in perspective, what do you think would happen if you took Windows, fiddled with the UI and tweaked a few other bits, then tried to sell it as your own work ? Or if you built some item of consumer electronics running Windows plus your own software and didn't bother to pay Microsoft for the Windows ? You'd be breaking the licence terms you got Windows under and could rightly expect to hear from the lawyers at Redmond.

    The GPL gives you MUCH more flexibility than that - for example you CAN take a pile of GPL software, tweak it a bit, and sell it (perhaps as part of an appliance). Just think of the saving being able to lift a whole OS instead of either writing your own or paying to licence a commercial one. The flip side is that in return for getting all that for free you are expected to pass on that freedom. However, that does not mean that ALL the software in that appliance automatically becomes open - you CAN have your own proprietry programs running, and many vendors do manage to make and sell successful products using free software alongside their own proprietry programs.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Go on, do what you like!" - M$

    "Microsoft threatens its Most Valuable Professional"

    Which obviously means that when using M$ products you cannot do want you want, when you want, at all.

    Open Source however says you can do want you want, but if you sell it to somebody else you need to give it to everybody else as well.

    Or if you modify and improve it, you need to make it available to everyone else. This way software can evolve and you evolve it and we don't have to re-invent the wheel each time. Value is in supporting and improving. Not lock-in

    slightly less onerous.

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