02.18.11

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Microsoft Bans Mono

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OSI at 1:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“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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15 Comments

  1. Dr. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 18, 2011 at 1:32 am

    Gravatar

    For historical record, here are more links about it (updates and face-saving response from Microsoft yet to come):

    Microsoft burning the Open Source bridge
    Another Huge Reason to Avoid Microsoft’s Windows Phone
    Microsoft bans open source license trio from WinPhone

  2. twitter said,

    February 18, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Gravatar

    Phipps is right to worry about QT and others are right to worry about Microsoft’s attitude applied to Windows itself. People use QT to write software for Windows as well as GNU/Linux and other platforms. I was surprised and somewhat pleased to learn that on of the legacy applications I use at work was made with QT. The application is not free software, so I don’t have much sympathy for the devils, but what a disaster it would be for the developers to have QT swept out from under them. This can happen either by license, as Microsoft has done with Phoney 7, or by entryism at Nokia by Elop. Either way, Microsoft’s behavior deserves some anti-trust investigation and non free software is again shown to be harmful.

    The folly of the term “open source” is also on display. Microsoft can and does say that they “fully support open source” but they can’t say the same for software freedom. Microsoft pretends to “support open source” in limited contexts by sometimes not sabotaging programs like VLC and Firefox on Windows. “You can see some of the source and it runs” they can tell you and they have even made the ridiculous claim that Windows itself is “open source” because the company has sold copies of the source code, without the right to modify or even compile it. People who value their freedom know the difference. Microsoft can’t claim to offer users their software freedom while violating user rights. Choice, performance and a healthy market usually follows software freedom but freedom is worth defending for it’s own sake. Proper language helps people understand that, Microsoft’s language leaves people confused and ultimately helpless and divided.

    NotZed Reply:

    There wont be any qt on nokias microsoft phones anyway according to articles i’ve read.

    Rather misleading headline there too Roy.

    twitter Reply:

    There won’t be any QT anywhere if Elop and Microsoft have their way. Shutting down a major competitor like that deserves some anti-trust scrutiny and it’s just a small part of the Elop scandal.

    Roy’s headline is just fine because banning mono is the Microsoft end game. On phoney 7 we see their intentions clearly. The purpose of mono was to harm gnu/linux. The company is not even pretending the platform has a future outside of that goal as they kick everyone else’s development tools to the curb. They really enjoy wasting your time and money. What’s the difference between a “Smart Phone” with a dual core ARM with 16 GB flash memory and any other general purpose computer that justifies the draconian licensing terms? This is how Microsoft would like all of “their” computers to work.

    Microsoft is the big loser in all of this. On the heals of SCO, Novell and Yahoo’s demise comes Nokia. All of this destruction, just so they can disrupt the free software community a little bit but it never works. Free software, despite all of Microsoft’s legal and technical sabotage, is stronger than ever. Phoney 7 is already a failure and the company’s prospects outside of their collapsing desktop monopoly are dim.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    How is it misleading? It’s maybe broader than just Mono, but the irony is that Microsoft blocks some of its own stuff, too.

    twitter Reply:

    Roy’s daily links from today has this excellent perspective on what’s going on with QT from long time developer Vohi. QT was for embedded Linux, Symbian and MeGo as well as desktops. Vohi has been promissed that QT is growing and the company is hiring but nebulously tells us that development will now go on for another platform that is not “burning” yet. Comments are interesting and someone named “jono” who argues that QT should be shut down for financial reasons is dealt with appropriately by Vohi, but sadly Elop will not be so clueful.

    Novell provides a terrible example of what happens when a company gets tied up with Microsoft. My worry is that QT will be wrecked by Microsoft porting and other Elop stupidity. Elop’s clear focus is Phoney 7 at the expense of both Symbian and Mego. It would be bad enough if GNU/Linux and “cross platform” development were simply neglected, but we’re talking about Microsoft so we should expect sabotage. Just considering workaround for the many flaws and shortfalls of Windows tends to gunk up a project. Steve Ballmer must be quite pleased to have stolen something he can either exploit or ruin and can boast that he has “outsmarted” the free software world at Nokia the way he wanted to. Elop has already stated his desire to screw things up with patents, so we might watch for Novell/Mono style poisoning for the KDE community. Software freedom has preserved Gnome itself and given Microsoft very little in return for Novell’s destruction. Microsoft dealings and an overall strategy away from software freedom ruined Novell. Elop may do the same for Nokia even faster and people will lose their jobs but free QT will survive. This is very sad.

    Thanks for the good link, Roy.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Glad you found it handy.

  3. vexorian said,

    February 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm

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    Ehem well, I guess Icaza’s reaction to this would be “Microsoft simplifies the mobile landscape” He will then have a chart like follows:

    | iOS | Android | WP7
    ——————————————-
    Open source | Banned | Allowed | Banned
    Closed Source | Allowed | Allowed | Allowed
    ——————————————–
    Thus the move makes developer’s lives easier, they no longer choice between open source and closed source if they want to develop for mobile.

    gnufreex Reply:

    I see lots of reviews comparing WP7 vs Android vs iOS. But that is not valid. Both RIM and WebOS have way more market-share than Wp7, so I think MS should be dropped from comparison.

    I don’t know what is situation with WebOS and RIM app stores? I have a hunch that it is lot more open and Free Software friendly. Do someone have some info?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    RIM and WebOS do not own as much of the technology press as Gates & Microsoft. People who believe that news is covered based on true importance should consider reassessment.

  4. vexorian said,

    February 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Gravatar

    OT, but did any of you guys notice Icaza outright linking to Awflorian Mueller anti-FOSS FUD site AND PatentSleuth’s horror, to justify his argument?

    http://img833.imageshack.us/i/pantallazo163.png/

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Thanks for taking this screenshot. The president of the FFII noticed it and wrote:

    “DeIcaza linking to Florian, same ecosystem http://ur1.ca/394ox

    http://twitter.com/#!/zoobab/status/37555387825659904

    I replied to it at the time. It not the only interaction between this duo.

  5. gnufreex said,

    February 20, 2011 at 5:05 am

    Gravatar

    I too think that tittle is a bit misleading since Wp7 has .NET and it doesn’t need Mono, hence Mono is banned by design. (also, all other native languages are banned by design) What is really banned legally are copyleft-ed Mono applications.

    Other than that, great article.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It turns out now, after Microsoft’s much-needed damage control, that it bans licences that are against software patents:

    Specifically banned are the GPLv3, Affero GPLv3 and LGPLv3. Any code that is released under the equivalents of these three licences is also not allowed in the Marketplace.

    twitter Reply:

    No, technically Microsoft has banned Mono from WP7 and we can assume they would like to ban it from all of their platforms. Windows itself does not need Mono but there are installers because .NET is not cross platform and Mono is not really .NET. The root cause of all of this is that Microsoft’s purpose is to control and exclude rather than to create or follow standards but they set up Mono as a phoney standard that draws people into Windows, a patent trap and a FUD source. Mono boosters would have people think that their stuff is cross platform but fooling with Windows is always a waste of time.

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