OSI Approves MS Licenses

Today the news hit that two licenses from Microsoft were approved by the Open Source Initiative as official open source licenses. The licenses were submitted back in early August and a good deal of discussion and work has been going on since then.

Jon Rosenberg, who is a really sharp guy and was a colleague of mine when I was working on source licensing issues, has been driving the effort. You can read some comments from him up on Port 25 today. I know

I think this is a very positive thing, and am glad to see it come to fruition. In 2001 we started down the path of learning from open source, and thinking deeply about what it meant to work with open source development for Microsoft. In retrospect, we were kind of dumb in that we decided to tackle the most complex issue first. We immediately looked at Windows source code. It showed our inexperience in thinking about source code licensing issues. The code base was so big, and took so much time for devs to ramp up on even small sections of it, that it had limited utility to see the code. It was not until we had tools, and all sorts of additional elements in place that such a large code base became useful. Even then, it was not open source – it was Shared Source. We were very careful about what language we used.

But then we looked at all sort of models – reference code, full mod rights/full distribution rights but don’t take anything back, fully collaborative development, reciprocal licensing and grant-back assignments…all then coupled with differing investments in associated developer support, headcount, tools, etc. etc. Over time, a pattern formed and now our product teams have a full set of choices about how to work with source licensing that best works with community and still meets the needs of the business.

I think the guys in our OSS labs, up on Port 25, out on Codeplex, and the teams working on licensing issues are doing great things. We have well over 2000 OSS projects to date, and more than a few have strong communities with great project leads.

I think this news today is a really good step. Congrats Jon – and thank you to the OSI for the considered discussion and substantive feedback over the years (and particularly in this final stage of the process).

Comments (6)

  1. Stefan Wenig says:


    good work! There’s one thing I have to complain about: the licensing site (http://www.microsoft.com/resources/sharedsource/licensingbasics/sharedsourcelicenses.mspx) says nothing about the name changes, the names were just silently changed there.

    Not a single word about that it was changed, when that happened, what the old names were… (wasn’t the reference license abbreviated as Ms-RL before)

    That makes a quite cumbersome impression…

  2. jasonmatusow says:

    Stefan –

    I will pass on the coment to the team. This was an issue that was raised during the OSI review by the community and the MS team responded with the name changes. The blog posting I linked to from Jon Rosenberg mentioned it briefly as well.



  3. Stefan Wenig says:


    I understand the need for the name change, but just read the cached version here: http://tinyurl.com/35wvdt, then imagine you come back a month later to read the current version. New names, new meaning for Ms-RL even… Confusion.


  4. Scott Mace says:


    Re: "2000 OSS projects to date" — is there a list of all 2000 projects that Microsoft keeps up to date and available on the Web?



  5. jasonmatusow says:

    Scott – there are projects around a bunch of places, but the most are concentrated at http://www.codeplex.com. There are >2500 projects there today. I don’t know the split as to how many are run by MS employees vs. outside project leads. I do know that that there are also projects of ours up on SourceForge and RubyForge – but I don’t think those are big numbers (cool projects, just not many of them).

    Hope that helps.