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Microsoft Bans Mono

"I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue"

--Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist



Summary: Vista Phony 7 forbids the use of Mono, based on what the terms simply say; in fact, Vista Phony 7 bans Microsoft's own OSI-approved licences

THERE IS some laugh-worth news in Mono land. While Novell keeps increasing its influence inside the Linux Foundation it is also increasing Microsoft's influence inside GNU/Linux with projects like Mono and Moonlight, which are partly Microsoft releases because of the code they contain and the manager of the project, a Microsoft MVP who raves about them [1, 2] even though they receive little attention. As we explained last year, Moonlight had lost a lot of momentum and so had Mono, to a lesser degree. The problem with both is that owing to the FSF sort of denouncing them, more people do realise they are the patent burden a lot of other people claim them to be. It is not just a patent issue but also an API issue and a copyright issue because Microsoft owns part of Mono (and Moonlight, which depends on Mono and uses codecs from Microsoft). There is MS-PL-licensed code right inside Mono and since Microsoft bans free code from Vista Phony 7, there too Mono may not be allowed. "Microsoft Bans Open Source From Windows Phone Marketplace" says this new article:



Jan Wildeboer points at clause 'e' which states, “The Application must not include software, documentation, or other materials that, in whole or in part, are governed by or subject to an Excluded License, or that would otherwise cause the Application to be subject to the terms of an Excluded License. ”

It is beyond comprehension how this clause will help Microsoft in getting more developers or great applications. What I can understand is Microsoft is trying to discourage developers from using open source model for application development. Is it a well calculated move by Microsoft to attack the free and open source community or yet another immitation of Apple's App Store?


"Microsoft bans open source from the Marketplace" says also the British press:



Jan Wildeboer, open source evangelist and Red Hat employee, was one of the first to spot the restrictions in Microsoft's licence this week. "One thing is extremely obvious," Wildeboer claims in a post to his personal blog. "Microsoft wants to keep its platform clear of Free Software. Period."

As evidence, Wildeboer points to Article 5 of the Application Requirements section of the Microsoft Application Provider Agreement, which states: "The Application must not include software, documentation, or other materials that, in whole or in part, are governed by or subject to an Excluded License, or that would otherwise cause the Application to be subject to the terms of an Excluded License."

The reference to 'Excluded License' refers to an earlier section which explicitly names the GNU General Public License version 3 and its Lesser derivative - two of the most common open source licences around - along with 'any equivalents.'


Our member gnufreex wrote a detailed analysis of it, which says:

First of all, application delivery mechanism for WP7 (or call it “App Store”) is completely incompatible with Free Software. User has no means of getting the source code, nor installing modified software. That makes all software received through this mechanism non-free, regardless whether previous license was BSD, GPL or any other FSF or OSI certified license. In case of copyleft license, this would be a violation, but that is besides the point. Acquired software is not Free in practical sense, in a way that user can’t help himself by examining the code, which one of basic Freedoms that Free Software gives.

[...]

Clause (ii) is more of the same, but clause (iii) I think might be FUD. No Free Software license requires redistributing at no charge, and license that would require that would never pass FSF and OSI certification process. So it is possible that this clause is there only so that Microsoft advocates can spray FUD on GPL, something they love to do. It is bad for Microsoft if people talk about clause(i), that Microsoft banned every copyleft license, but it is good for Microsoft if people talk about clause (iii) and misinterpret GPL as anti-capitalist license (which is not). If that makes one coder stay away from GPL, then that is good for MSFT.

[...]

WP7 would be nice chance for Microsoft to make a statement that they are never ever planing to force Mono underground with software patents. They could do that by allowing and encouraging GPLv3 apps in their app store. After all, only .NET developers can get those patent grants, since noting else runs on WP7. But sadly, Microsoft is doing just the opposite. Their double-ban of GPLv3 sends message to their devotees in Mono movement: they need to use permissive license without patent protection if they plan to have proprietary port to WP7. This shows that Microsoft wants to reserve right to sue against Mono ecosystem, as we already know by now. Will Mono app developers prefer GPL or Microsoft walled garden? Well, considering that Mono leader is “psyched” about developing for WP7 phones, my guess is that Mono devs will want to follow the leader and port their stuff to WP7. Profile of people who are endorsing Mono is such that they will probably do whatever Microsoft and De Icaza asks them to.

But wider FLOSS community needs to continue shunning Mono because Microsoft obviously didn’t change it’s mind. They are still making sure they don’t give patent grant to Mono users, and are not shy to double-ban licenses which would give them needed guarantees.


Simon Phipps says that "Microsoft Bans Its Own License" and this includes Mono ramifications:

But his critics aren't accurate either. Most of the criticism I've seen tries to turn this into the old GPL vs BSD wars, claiming "it's just Microsoft continuing to ban the GPL and who could blame them". But Microsoft's prohibition goes further than the GPL licenses it's using as an example; it says "Excluded Licenses include, but are not limited to the GPLv3 Licenses". So this makes it impossible to use, for example, the Eclipse Public License - ruling out anything from the whole, large Eclipse ecosystem - or the Mozilla Public License or any other "weak copyleft" license.

That includes, remarkably, Microsoft's own OSI-approved Microsoft Reciprocal License and possibly even the Microsoft Public License, according to one legal expert. As a consequence, use of open source libraries under these licenses - which not even Apple's byzantine regulations object to - is apparently prohibited.

That might plausibly include Mono, based on Microsoft's own .NET but partly licensed under MS-PL. It also means that Microsoft's new partner Nokia could have trouble using it's Qt graphics environment on the platform as it's under the GPL. Some legally-qualified commentators are even suggesting that, if the first use of "the software" in the definition of "Excluded License" means the open source software and not the application being submitted, then all open source licenses are barred. I hope that's just bad drafting.


"Ooh, ooh," wrote Phipps some hours ago, "Miguel still hates me". Microsoft MVP de Icaza and his minions are currently attacking all the messengers by belittling their intelligence. It's rather pathetic really, but that's just the mentality of Mono bullies, who seem to inherit their aggression from 'mother ship' Microsoft.

Here is The H saying that "Microsoft bans free software from Windows Phone Marketplace" (we are quoting just headlines by the way, as they are quite consistent and pass the fact-checking phase).

The prohibition of free software licences appears to be Microsoft's own response to the issues raised by the appearance and later removal of GPL applications such as VLC from the Apple iPhone App Store. Commercial application stores like Apple's and Microsoft's do not have mechanisms to make source code for applications directly available. They also have some form of DRM lock which prevents the binary being passed on to another user, on all applications, even ones available for no charge in the market. It is these restrictions that make the stores incompatible with licences such as the GPL.


In other words, Microsoft hardly tries to make Vista Phony 7 succeed.

In Wayne's latest part of "Microsoft Death Watch" he looks at Microsoft's own reports sceptically and reaches the conclusion that Microsoft loses a lot of money in phones (known fact for years, Microsoft hid it by merging divisions/operations).

1) Microsoft’s sales of Windows Phone 7 haven’t been all that good. It appears that WP7 is costing Microsoft more than it’s making in sales. Charlie over at Semi-Accurate has reported that Microsoft is giving WP7 away. If what Charlie says is true, it’s also likely to put downward pressure on the price of Windows for personal computers.

2) Check row 15. Microsoft Business, which includes Office, is Microsoft’s best profit center. The problem is that Microsoft Office only works on the personal computer version of Windows. Anything which impacts on the number of personal computer Windows licenses that are sold will hurt Office sales. There aren’t versions of Office for tablets or phones, which are the fastest growing segments of the personal computer market.

3) HP is planning to use WebOS in phones, tablets, and personal computers. WebOS is a Linux based operating system, somewhat similar to Android, another Linux based operating system, and Apple’s IOS, a BSD based operating system. Windows Mobile, the predecessor of WP7, which was supposed to take this market never did sell well.


So here we have a dying phone platform which even the NoWin deal [1, 2, 3, 4] cannot rescue. Microsoft is banning itself. Hilarious way to end the week.

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