22 October 2007

Microsoft Opens Its Gritted Teeth

I didn't write about Microsoft's capitulation to steely Neelie earlier because the open source aspect seemed unclear. Trust Matthew Aslett to dig up the official details of her announcement:

I told Microsoft that it had to make interoperability information available to open source developers. Microsoft will now do so, with licensing terms that allow every recipient of the resulting software to copy, modify and redistribute it in accordance with the open source business model.

I told Microsoft that it should give legal security to programmers who help to develop open source software and confine its patent disputes to commercial software distributors and end users. Microsoft will now pledge to do so.

I worry that there's some wiggle room here - just what exactly is "the open source business model"? - but given the soundness of its thrashing, maybe Microsoft really has given up fighting the EU. Let's hope.

I suppose it's worth pointing out the huge symbolism of this win. Microsoft, a company built on black box nature of its code, and on using its proprietary interfaces to lock out competitors, has been forced to open up those interfaces - something that would have been unimaginable ten years ago. So deeply has openness now entered the system.

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