The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) critically reviews Microsoft's offer to publish source code instead of protocols.
Georg Greve, President of FSFE explains: "The European Commission asked Microsoft to publish their protocols to allow others to write interoperable software and to re-establish competition. That does not appear to have happened, at least the terms under which the protocols are supposedly available are not clear. What they have done instead is publish source code, which they weren't asked to do."
In a press release Microsoft announced yesterday "to license all the Windows Server source code". This would underscore Microsoft's "commitment to resolve compliance issues".
According to FSFE this would not be of any help, but would cause additional troubles. Carlo Piana, FSFE's lawyer explains: "This 'commitment' is poisoned – they do it in a way that worsens the situation for Free Software: Because that source code is under Microsoft copyright, developers who have seen the source code cannot reimplement it in Free Software for fear of copyright violation."
Even worse, "Microsoft might try to shut down competition by making claims of copyright infringement based on the argument that the developer 'could' have looked at the source code", Piana forecasts.
Georg Greve adds: "Indeed. How exactly are developers supposed to write interoperable software without looking at the source code if the specifications are not available? If you eat from that apple, you find yourself poisoned by their copyright."
After their welcoming of Microsoft's new 'Shared Source' Licences which were substantially improved over their previous licensing proposals, FSFE was willing to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt.
"It now seems clear this was just another marketing ploy: Yesterday Microsoft acted like a robber that, when asked to please put away the gun, tosses you a grenade. Our praise seemed premature in hindsight", Greve finishes.