[FSFE PR][EN] FSFE: "Microsoft offers poisoned apple" - "Praises premature in hindsight"

Joachim Jakobs press at fsfeurope.org
Thu Jan 26 14:32:49 CET 2006

FSFE: "Microsoft offers poisoned apple" - "Praises premature in hindsight"

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) critically reviews
Microsoft's offer to publish source code instead of protocols.

Georg Greve, President of FSFE explains: "The European Commission
asked Microsoft to publish their protocols to allow others to write
interoperable software and to re-establish competition. That does not
appear to have happened, at least the terms under which the protocols
are supposedly available are not clear. What they have done instead is
publish source code, which they weren't asked to do."

In a press release [1] Microsoft announced yesterday "to license all
the Windows Server source code". This would underscore Microsoft's
"commitment to resolve compliance issues".

According to FSFE this would not be of any help, but would cause
additional troubles. Carlo Piana, FSFE's lawyer explains: "This
'commitment' is poisoned - they do it in a way that worsens the
situation for Free Software: Because that source code is under
Microsoft copyright, developers who have seen the source code cannot
reimplement it in Free Software for fear of copyright violation."

Even worse, "Microsoft might try to shut down competition by making
claims of copyright infringement based on the argument that the
developer 'could' have looked at the source code", Piana forecasts.

Georg Greve adds: "Indeed. How exactly are developers supposed to
write interoperable software without looking at the source code if the
specifications are not available? If you eat from that apple, you find
yourself poisoned by their copyright."

After their welcoming of Microsoft's new 'Shared Source' Licences [2]
which were substantially improved over their previous licensing
proposals, FSFE was willing to give Microsoft the benefit of the

"It now seems clear this was just another marketing ploy: Yesterday
Microsoft acted like a robber that, when asked to please put away the
gun, tosses you a grenade. Our praise seemed premature in hindsight",
Greve finishes.

[2] http://mail.fsfeurope.org/pipermail/press-release/2005q4/000120.html

About the Free Software Foundation Europe:

 The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), founded 2001, is a
 charitable non-governmental organisation dedicated to all aspects of
 Free Software in Europe. Access to software determines who may
 participate in a digital society. The the Freedoms to use, copy,
 modify and redistribute software - as described in the Free Software
 definition - allow equal participation in the information
 age. Creating awareness for these issues, securing Free Software
 politically and legally, and giving people Freedom by supporting
 development of Free Software are central issues of the FSFE. Further
 information about FSFE's work can be found at http://fsfeurope.org,

Joachim Jakobs <jj at office.fsfeurope.org>
Media Relations - FSF Europe (http://fsfeurope.org)
mobile: +49-179-6919565

Join the Fellowship and protect your freedom!      (http://www.fsfe.org)

More information about the Press-release mailing list