Subject: Interesting "almost open source" Microsoft tactic
From: "Benjamin J. Tilly " <ben_tilly@operamail.com>
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2004 00:29:39 +0800

Microsoft has just publically released their email
caller-id proposal.  See
http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/twc/privacy/spam_callerid.mspx
for details.  I don't want to talk about the technical
merits of the proposal in detail.  Suffice it to say
that inserting XML documents into DNS records seems
like truly gratuitous abuse.  If you like the idea,
then see http://spf.pobox.com/ instead.

However what caught my eye about Microsoft's proposal
was their offered patent license.  They have apparently
applied for a patent or patents (this is unclear) on
their proposal.  And they offer a license for it.  The
highlights of which is that any implementation of their
proposal done by anyone who accepts that license can
then be resold by anyone else who accepts that license.
Furthermore suing Microsoft over the patent loses you
the license.  The license is not transferable.  And
you have to say prominently:

   This product may incorporate intellectual
   property owned by Microsoft Corporation.
   If you would like a license from Microsoft,
   you need to contact Microsoft directly.

What is interesting about this?  Well first of all I
think that their "reselling" term is trying to capture
part of the value proposition of open source in an
interesting way without having to acknowledge open
source, and without accepting some of the risks that
being truly open source could bring.  Secondly I
suspect that the obvious GPL-incompatiblity is an
entirely intentional move.

Cheers,
Ben