Microsoft Bans Open Source GPL Apps From Windows Phone

Ryan Whitwam

Red Hat EMEA evangelist Jan Wildeboer came across an interesting detail of Microsoft's developer agreement, and is now bringing it to everyone's attention . According to Microsoft's own Application Provider Agreement for the Windows Marketplace, apps that fall under an "Excluded License" will not be permitted. What is an Excluded License? Microsoft explains in another part of the document that an Excluded License is one that requires the opening of source code and distribution at no charge. Affected are open source licenses like GPLv3, LGPLv3, Affero GPLv3. Bummer.

It is not clear what Microsoft's reason for doing this is. After all, why go to the hassle of proactively banning open software? This makes us think of the recent uproar over the removal of VLC from the iOS App Store. In that case, the original developers of VLC pointed out that the App Store was not compatible with GPL, and had it removed. But Microsoft is going out of its way to keep open software out in the first place.

To be clear, not all open source software is banned. Just those using the licenses mentioned, which is a sizeable portion. Wildeboer also contends that Xbox apps would fall under the same provisions, but we figure open software will find its way there less often. Why do you think Microsoft enacted this policy?

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