The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is normally not on the list of companies likely to say anything positive about Microsoft.
Yet that’s exactly what happened yesterday, as the Free Software Foundation’s European branch (FSFE) congratulated Microsoft for its new shared source licenses.
Microsoft’s Shared Source Initiative now only offers three primary licenses, which is down from over 10.
The move is designed to simplify the licenses under which developers can use Shared Source Initiative technology. The reduction in licenses also stands out considering because the open source community has been hotly debating a reduction in open source licenses, which it has been unable to achieve.
The FSF is the home of the GNU-GPL, which is the defining license of the Free and Open Source Software movements and is the license under which the Linux kernel is developed. The FSF is currently working on version three of the GPL.
”Since we so rarely have an opportunity to say something positive about Microsoft, let me begin by congratulating them,” Georg Greve, president of the FSFE, said in a statement.
According the FSFE, two of the new shared source licenses may well meet the requirements of the Free Software Definition. It warns, however, that its evaluation was only preliminary and that the other licenses offered by Microsoft are still clearly proprietary ”non-free” licenses.
The Free Software Definition is the measure of four freedoms against which licenses are evaluated by the FSF to determine if there are indeed Free Software Licenses.