Microsoft Store re-enables open source apps

microsoft A month ago, it introduced a series of restrictions on its digital store that curbed excessive prices and charging for free applications. The corporation’s intentions could have been good, but in the end it was criticized because it took a very drastic measure for a problem with more edges than it appears.

It seems that the Redmond giant tried to contribute to the fight against one of the main problems facing open source: parasitism. Basically, it is when someone takes free and open source code developed by someone else and makes money with it without giving anything in return. The most extreme cases are those free apps that are then sold by a third party and not the original developer(s). Unfortunately, the original developers can only ask for the withdrawal of the trademark at most, and that is if they have it registered.

Sadly, parasitism, which not in a few cases leads to fraud from a moral point of view, is something that is very widespread and that has caused many to end up disenchanted with free software and open source, so, as a possible measure of support against that practice, the policies of the Microsoft Store were changed to prohibit the sale of free open source applications. Nevertheless, if parasitism is something that has accompanied open source for a long time without being solved, it is probably because it is an unsolvable problem.

On the one hand we have legitimate open source projects that are based on others that are also open source and free, while on the other hand there are applications that can be obtained for free from the official website and are paid for in stores. mainstream such as Steam, Play Store, App Store or the Microsoft Store itself. A handy example of this is Mindustry, a game of the type tower defense and published as free software that can be obtained for free from its official website and that is paid for on Steam. Here the original creators of the application are behind the two forms of distribution, so the paid versions of Mindustry exist to contribute to the sustainability of the project.

Mindustry is a video game published as free software that can be free on its website and is paid for on Steam

Mindustry is a video game published as free software that can be free on its website and paid for on Steam.

After the uproar generated by the changes applied a month ago in the Microsoft Store, the company published two weeks later an initial clarification saying that it would not prohibit open source applications. More recently, it has finished rectifying to change the orientation of its policy.

Giorgio Sardo, general manager of apps, partners and Store at Microsoft, has said through his twitter account that “to clarify our intention, removed previous mention of open source pricing. We are committed to building an open store and allowing developers choice and flexibility. If there are any intellectual property concerns about an app, please report it here”.

The official documentation of the Redmond giant has collected the following updates regarding the store policies:

  • Update 10.8.7 to remove language related to open source or other free software.
  • Update 11.2 adding a link to Microsoft’s online violation reporting form.

Apparently the company is going to focus on IP violations instead of outright prohibiting the sale of open source applications. Does this mean that it is again possible to clone Kdenlive and sell it later under another name? If one understands what is published by the company verbatim, the logical thing is to think so, although it is always better to consult the store’s rules, the latest version of which will take effect on August 18, 2022 at least in the United States.

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