Microsoft: Absolutely NO (GPLv3-or-compat-licensed) Free Software for Windows Phone and Xbox Apps.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer and this is my PERSONAL blog. This article reflects my PERSONAL opinion and does not necessarily represent the position of my employer.

DISCLAIMER 2: Some articles that link here claim I say that *ALL* Open Source software is banned by Microsoft. That is NOT what I say. Please read on.

[UPDATE: Italian translation of this article by Guglielmo Troiano at “Microsoft: niente Software Libero per Windows Phone e Xbox Apps.” ]

[UPDATE 2: Seems that the terms from Microsoft also exclude their own MS-PL license as pointed out by @webmink in the comments and in this article and also by @fontana on – now THAT is cool if correct :-)]

This is rather uncool, IMHO, I stumbled upon this forum entry and was quite astonished. It points to the Microsoft Application Provider Agreement that governs the Windows Marketplace, the App Store where users can get apps and developers publish them.

Now here’s the fun part. In article 5, Microsoft explains the Application Requirements that you need to fulfill to get your app accepted in the marketplace. It’s point E that is of interest here:

e. The Application must not include software, documentation, or other materials that, in whole or in part, are governed by or subject to an Excluded License, or that would otherwise cause the Application to be subject to the terms of an Excluded License.

Note the full scope: in whole or in part. This means that you cannot use Libraries that are under this ominous “Excluded License”. Or use documentation that is licensed under the ominous “Excluded License”. You get the point. If you use whatever stuff that is under this ominous “Excluded License” your app will not be added to the marketplace.

Now what is this ominous “Excluded License”? Scroll back in the document and find:

“Excluded License” means any license requiring, as a condition of use, modification and/or distribution of the software subject to the license, that the software or other software combined and/or distributed with it be (i) disclosed or distributed in source code form; (ii) licensed for the purpose of making derivative works; or (iii) redistributable at no charge. Excluded Licenses include, but are not limited to the GPLv3 Licenses. For the purpose of this definition, “GPLv3 Licenses” means the GNU General Public License version 3, the GNU Affero General Public License version 3, the GNU Lesser General Public License version 3, and any equivalents to the foregoing.

So each and all “equivalents” to the GPLv3, LGPLv3, Affero GPLv3 license are excluded. Any license that allows requires redistribution at no charge is excluded.

The consequences of this strange exclusion are not fully clear to me as I am not a lawyer. But one thing is extremely obvious. Microsoft wants to keep its platform clear of Free Software. Period.

This coming from the company that publicly claims to be a friend of Open Source, that wants to make windows the best ever platform for Open Source should make app developers think again if this mobile platform is the platform of choice.


Join us at #l33tm33t on sat evening, brussels, FOSDEM

Saturday evening from 20:30. 3 events meet at one place. Be there.

Register HERE –

Au Bon Vieux Temps
12, Rue Marché aux Herbes
1000 Brussels

BREAKING: We will have the mobile Transnational Immigration Office, so we can register citizens for the first transnational republic and give them Transnational ID cards! See UTNR for more info! EUR 15 for covering costs per ID Card. We need your national ID to verify.

1. L33tM33T At FOSDEM – where people meet to discuss, define and exchange info on decentralized solutions for the future. Based on projects like oStatus, Ushahidi, FREEdentity, Thimbl, Diaspora we all agree that the future of communication, digital life and meatspace is going to be decentralized.

At L33tM33T we want to bring together the architects, hackers and users of the upcoming decentralized world. That’s why we do everything at the same time!

2. Sharism Presents Brussels
Let us know, by following us at @sharism you are coming, or just show up! Its a free and open event. Sharism Presents are events without slides and everyone shares one thing for an open discussion.

3. StatusCheck is a celebration of StatusNet and Free Network Services. Denters Unite!

Come on out!

Join us! Have a beer! Meet other people! Let’s make a change.

Strange messages on #egypt mobile networks – needs investigation

EXEC SUMMARY: Vodafone and Etisalat networks transport government scripted messages supporting Mubarak. These messages are not normal SMS. Seemingly they are so-called Premium-Rate Short Messages that are submitted by companies on behalf of their customer/users to multiple recipients. At the same time normal SMS in Egypt are blocked, so people in Egypt cannot send SMS themselves.

CONFIRMED: Vodafone states egyptian authorities forced them to broadcast messages supportive of Mubarak regime.

People in Egypt have been getting these messages, despite an existing block on normal SMS.

OK. So according to my sources, the translation is:

Big demo starting this afternoon from Mustafa Mahmoud Square in Mohandaseen area to support Mubarak

Here the second message is the same and the first translates to:

The military cares about your safety and security and it won’t use force against these great people.

The message on etisalat shows “Egypt” as sender, the Vodafone one shows “EgyptLovers” as sender.

Both seem to be some kind of service message, not normal SMS. My contacts in Egypt confirm that they themselves cannot send SMS at all and they also tell me that not everyone has gotten these messages.

So questions arise:

Who is behind this?
Seemingly these are so-called Premium-Rated Short Messages, which means they are sent by protocols like SMPP, not as normal SMS.

Was the mobile network provider involved?
I would conclude yes. Normal people cannot send SMS at the moment. These messages are posted using a different system, as I outlined above. These SMPP costumers typically pay to the providers to use the system. So Vodafone and Etisalat should be able to find out who is behind this – at least which company posted them.

Will update. Please comment if you can shed more light on this.

UPDATE: Vodafone Statement:

Thursday 3 February 2011

Under the emergency powers provisions of the Telecoms Act, the Egyptian authorities can instruct the mobile networks of Mobinil, Etisalat and Vodafone to send messages to the people of Egypt. They have used this since the start of the protests. These messages are not scripted by any of the mobile network operators and we do not have the ability to respond to the authorities on their content.

Vodafone Group has protested to the authorities that the current situation regarding these messages is unacceptable. We have made clear that all messages should be transparent and clearly attributable to the originator.

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Vodafone is pleased to confirm that it has been able to reinstate data services in Egypt this morning, enabling our customers to access all internet sites. We are actively lobbying to reactivate SMS services as quickly as possible for our customers.