IE8 and IP Licensing

Some of the first things users may notice in the Beta 1 release of Internet Explorer 8 are new features such as Activities and WebSlice. We recognize that the technology behind Activities and Webslice relies on innovations that have come out of the community, which of course has had a critical role in the development of the Internet. We also appreciate the community’s deep commitment to permissive IP licensing and to ensuring the continued ability to innovate.

So with these new features and other initiatives we’re launching in Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1, we want to highlight the ways in which we’re using new approaches to licensing the various intellectual property components involved. We carefully chose these new licensing models because they are the models, or facilitate the kinds of free and open uses, that the relevant communities have adopted for themselves. While we will still evaluate the most appropriate way to make specifications and test cases available on a case-by-case basis, here we concluded that the Public Domain, Creative Commons and BSD licenses (for copyrights) and the Microsoft Open Specification Promise (for patents) are the best vehicles for making these technologies available. 

In this post I’ll briefly describe how these are all being used, and also point you to links where you can find additional information about them.

Creative Commons and Public Domain for Copyrights in the Specifications

For the OpenService Format and WebSlice Format specs, we’re using two separate Creative Commons vehicles to allow developers to freely use and build on our work.  We’re licensing our copyright in the OpenService Format Specification under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. This license lets others copy, distribute, modify and build upon the specification, even for commercial uses, as long as they simply give credit to Microsoft and license their own changes under the same terms.  This license is also consistent with the license adopted by the OpenSearch community, whose work relates to the OpenService Format spec.

We’re setting a new precedent with the WebSlice Format Specification by dedicating our copyright in it to the public domain using the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication, the first time we’ve used a public domain dedication in connection with one of our specs.  This allows anyone to freely copy, distribute, modify and build upon the specification for any purpose, without any additional conditions or obligations whatsoever. In this case, our public domain dedication is in keeping with the expectations of the hAtom Microformats community.

Our use of Creative Commons solutions in connection with these two specs continues our many years of support for and collaboration with that important organization. In addition to using Creative Commons licenses in conjunction with other other specs (including one used in conjunction with Internet Explorer 7) and on websites, Microsoft and Creative Commons have partnered on the creation of an add-in for Microsoft Office that automates the inclusion of Creative Commons licenses into Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. We’re happy to continue our enthusiastic engagement with Creative Commons with the release of these specs today. For more information about Creative Commons, including how you can use Creative Commons licenses on your own works, please visit

Microsoft Open Specification Promise for Implementations of the Specifications

Microsoft has developed the Open Specification Promise (“OSP”) to provide a simple and clear patent promise to reassure the broad audience of developers and customers that a given specification can be used for free, easily, now and forever. The OSP was developed with feedback from customers and the open source community, and we’re happy to be making both the OpenService Format and WebSlice Format specifications available under the OSP. The use of the OSP confirms that that these two specifications can be implemented for free. Please refer to this page for complete information and details concerning the OSP.

BSD License for Copyright in the Cascading Style Sheets 2.1 Test Suite

Finally, in connection with the Beta 1 release of Internet Explorer 8, we’re also posting a set of tests to validate our interpretation and implementation of the Cascading Style Sheets (“CSS”) 2.1 Specification.  In this case, we hope to get feedback from web designers and developers on the tests we’ve submitted to the W3C for inclusion in the W3C’s CSS Working Group Test Suite.  We’re licensing this test suite under the BSD License, which allows redistribution and modification of the tests in source and binary forms, subject to a familiar three-paragraph set of conditions. The BSD License is the license the W3C CSS Working Group has proposed using for the rest of its test cases, thus we’re using it here so that our tests can seamlessly transition over to the W3C CSS Working Group.

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We hope that users, developers, designers and testers all enjoy the new features in IE8 Beta 1. We look forward to your feedback and hope that the permissive IP licensing we are announcing today enhances the web community.

Tom Rubin
Associate General Counsel
Intellectual Property & Licensing

P.S. Creative Commons posted about this. Read more here.

Edit: updated hAtom Microformats Community link; added P.S.

Comments (15)

  1. Steven Roussey says:

    That looks great, we’ll have to take a look at how to use these new features that are spec’ed above.

    Nothing is as annoying to many of us than the long periods of time hearing nothing. So I applaud you all on the continuous writing on this blog this week.

    In that same vein of thought, when we test other new browsers, we generally get a milestone release, and if we have problems, we get a nightly release from time to time to see how it fares.

    Please don’t make us wait huge amounts of time for changes, we are developers, not consumers. Nightlies would be great, though weeklies would be fine as well.

  2. arul vigg says:

    great article well written and wonderfully crafted!!

    by arul vigg.

  3. Will Peavy says:

    Will the CSS opacity property be supported in IE8? Neither the property from the W3C CSS3 spec, nor the MS filter (alpha(opacity=x)) works in IE8b1 standards mode.

  4. For the music player frame on my website I have 490px total available width.

    Other elements taking up horizontal space…

    object element: 31px

    six 19px anchor elements: 114px


    = 145px used

    = 345px remaining

    I presume the select element when set to display as a block should be 343px in width with border-width: 1px; should properly result in no "unused" pixels.

    IE8-B1 seems to execute this correctly while Gecko 1.8/1.9, Webkit 523, and Opera 9.5B all disagree and I still have 2px of empty horizontal space.

    I am going to have to go with IE8B1’s interpretation of this unless I’m missing something?

  5. Thomas Krause says:

    I second the weekly build request. Just put in somewhere deep in microsoft connect or msdn where non developer won’t look for it.

    Developers know what weekly builds are for and won’t expect beta or even ctp quality from these builds.

    Even shipping these builds only preinstalled on virtual pc images to avoid any possible damage, would be better than nothing.


  6. jun says:

    I don’t know about the weekly build suggestion.  Since IE still installs as a parasite that wraps around the OS’s spinal coord, that might not be such a great idea.

  7. Webdesign says:

    Nothing is as annoying to many of us than the long periods of time hearing nothing. So I applaud you all on the continuous writing on this blog this week.

    In that same vein of thought, when we test other new browsers, we generally get a milestone release, and if we have problems, we get a nightly release from time to time to see how it fares.

  8. hunhun1981 says:


  9. Ian M says:

    The Open Specification Promise is worthless – it’s an idea untested in law, it can be revoked in future versions, and it is incompatible with most Free Software licenses which include patent language, such as what is arguably Microsoft’s biggest competitor, the GPL license and it’s surrounding ecosystem.

    Please use a real patent pledge, like Sun did for ODF:

    It must be both irrevocable and non-discriminatory (apply to everyone for anything they wish to do).

  10. This is the first on an n part post series about my personal thoughts on this year’s MIX based on notes

  11. lynne says:

    I agree with what others are saying about keeping distance from ‘weekly build’. I don’t know (like many) and am awaiting to see how the nightly releases work out. However I am keeping my expectations inline with real prior experiences. I can’t stand long durations waiting for a change that is long past due.

  12. IEBlog says:

    When Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 launched in March, I wrote a post describing the permissive intellectual

  13. When Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 launched in March, we wrote a post describing the permissive intellectual

  14. Доступна финальная версия Internet Explorer 8 С радостью сообщаем о релизе финальной версии Internet