Monday, 21 February 2011

Business: Stop In The Name Of...

Microsoft has banned all GPL licensed software from their Windows Mobile 7 marketplace...

Now normally I would be ranting and raving about this by now, but in this particular case, Microsoft's decision seems to be just sensible, albeit hard-nosed, business one. GPL mandates that not just the author, but also the distributor has to be able to provide end user with access to the source code. Microsoft had to chose between the expense of providing this and the potential loss of GPL licensed software in their marketplace. GPL licensed software usually being free (as in beer) there won't be any loss in earnings for Microsoft. And since there's not that many GPL licensed applications anyway, Microsoft, probably rightly, concluded it's better off without it. As Ars Technica also rightly concludes, Apple should do exactly the same thing. After all they are already in breach of the terms of GPL for every single GPL licensed application in their App Store. But, would it be a good thing for them to go down that route? I think it will, and not just for Apple's bottom line. Such a widespread refusal to promote open source may actually help the open source community itself in raising its profile and explaining to more people and better what it is all about. Another option, however, is for Microsoft to decide to spend a penny in an attempt to earn a pound over Apple, and allow GPL so its marketplace can tick one box more. or maybe it will just contract the open source bug from Nokia?

Either way, I am waiting with baited breath to see who blinks first: Microsoft or Apple...