The legal community for Open Source are saying that Microsoft’s pledge for Open Specifications under the GPL is not true. Citing some inconsistencies such as these:

Irrevocable but Only for Now

Microsoft makes its promise “irrevocably,” but upon careful reading of the entire OSP, this promise is weakened considerably in the definition of Covered Specifications. In that provision, Microsoft clarifies that:

New versions of previously covered specifications will be separately considered for addition to the list.

Because of this narrow definition of the covered specifications, no future versions of any of the specifications are guaranteed to be covered under the OSP. Each new version is subject to Microsoft’s ongoing discretion on a case by case basis. In other words, every time a specification changes, Microsoft can effectively revoke the OSP as it had applied to previous versions of that same specification. Microsoft states that it will commit to renewal of the promise for future versions of specifications subject to standardizing activity “to the extent that Microsoft is participating in those efforts,” which means that Microsoft reserves the right to cancel the promise with respect even to standardized specifications, by merely withdrawing from the relevant standard-setting workgroup or activity. While technically an irrevocable promise, in practice the OSP is good only for today.

Are the lawyers just being cautious or do have they come to distrust any promise made by the Redmond software giant? What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Full article is located here.

[tags]microsoft, gpl, lawyers, osp, specifications, technical, promise, practice, [/tags]