Microsoft won't ban open-source apps from its app store, for now

Microsoft has offered clarification about prohibiting the sale of open-source apps. The company has confirmed that it is not banning commercial open-source apps from the Microsoft Store.

Microsoft stirred up quite a controversy last month when it updated its terms of use for the Microsoft Store. The new rules, which could still go into effect on July 16, appear to stop the sale and distribution of commercial OSS apps. Section 10.8.7 in the revised policy states:

Not attempt to profit from open-source or other software that is otherwise generally available for free, nor be priced irrationally high relative to the features and functionality provided by your product.

As a result, there were a lot of complaints from developers who have listed open-source apps on the Microsoft App Store. Despite what the name suggests Free and Open-Source Software, commonly referred to as FOSS, isn't always free to download and use.

Linux and OSS are routinely assumed to be entirely free. However, there are many commercial projects that bring a lot of additional value. Although based on FOSS, there are no restrictions on a developer to charge for an open-source app.

Giorgio Sardo, the General Manager of Apps, Partners, Store at Microsoft, initially claimed Microsoft’s goal was not to stop the distribution of OSS. The company merely intended to cut down on "misleading listings”.

The explanation offered by Sardo seems quite vague. Hence, some developers asked him to clarify the company’s position in regards to the sale of apps (based on FOSS) on the Microsoft Store.

There might not be a direct correlation, but Microsoft is also trying to keep apps that use Apple's WebKit, away from its store. WebKit is an open-source rendering engine.

As the Tweet indicates, Microsoft has decided to postpone the implementation of the policy. He added that Microsoft needs to clarify its intent behind the revised draft. What this means is that Microsoft will not be banning commercial OSS apps from the Microsoft Store. However, the company hasn't yet scrapped the troubling clause in the policy.

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