Microsoft changes its mind about open source monetization

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Microsoft has performed a u-turn on its plans to prevent developers from selling open source software on the Microsoft store. It announced the policy that would essentially lead to this back in June, with the policy due to come into effect on July 16. Microsoft received plenty of pushback from the open source community though and has since deleted it. Everyone seems to be happy with the decision.

In Microsoft’s defence, it was actually trying to do the right thing. Specifically, it was trying to stop unscrupulous developers from making copycat versions of open source apps but there were some holes in the logic. The policy change in question was numero 10.8.7, which briefly stated that developers should:

  • Not attempt to profit from open-source or other software that is otherwise generally available for free, nor be priced irrationally high relative to the features and functionality provided by your product. 

Thank you Wayback Machine. 

By essentially blanket banning anyone selling software built on open source code, it also inadvertently stopped the legitimate owners of that code from making money from it. Not quite what Microsoft intended.

The open source community was clear over its disputes with this new wording, and Microsoft did respond quickly saying that it would delay enforcing the new policy. Since then it has actually removed the reference in its policy document to open source in 10.8.7 and has added a link to report intellectual property infringement to 11.2.

This about-face turn has been warmly welcomed by the free and open source software community, with the Software Freedom Conservancy even “congratulating” Microsoft for the changes, as reported by Tech Crunch. 

It will be interesting to see how quickly Microsoft deals with any copycat infringements in the future, but it does look like it is listening to developers. It’s a shame the Microsoft Store still feels like a confusing place to find applications for most of us though. 

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