Microsoft covers C#, CLI programs with its home-grown, open source license

And many in the open source community actually smiles

In a move that actually brought positive comments about Microsoft from the open source community, Microsoft today announced that it is extending its legally binding "Community Promise" licensing to cover C# programs and Common Language Infrastructure (CLI). Developers and users can use and modify implementations without fear of any reprisals.

The Community Promise was crafted in September, 2007, and updated in February, 2009. In it, Microsoft asserts that it "irrevocably promises not to assert any Microsoft Necessary Claims against you for making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or distributing any implementation" covered by the promise. The announcement that C# and CLI would be covered was made by Peter Galli at Microsoft over at Microsoft's Port25 blog. The promise covers C# and CLI code "under any type of development or distribution model, including open-source licensing models such as the LGPL or GPL, " he said.

The promise to cover C# and CLI stems from a request made from Novell's Miguel de Icaza, who has led development of Mono, an open source version of Microsoft's .Net Framework. He wanted clarification from Microsoft on exactly what kind of license Mono and any derivatives that stem from it would have. The promise covers two ECMA specs (334 and 335) upon which parts of Mono were built. Novell will therefore be creating new distributions of Mono, splitting the source code into a fully ECMA (i.e. fully open-source and safe) distribution and another containing Mono's implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Winforms etc., (i.e. the legally iffy stuff). Other open source software makers that support Microsoft/Windows programs distribute their code in similar safe/not-safe packages.

Microsoft has come a long, long way in its relationship with open source developers. This is a necessary corporate change if the company wants to survive. Let's hope that it doesn't follow this move with another Tom-Tom-like lawsuit.

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