Timeo Danaos, et dona ferentes

(for the Latin challenged: the title comes from Vergilius’ Aeneis and it translates to "I fear the Greek, even when they’re bringing gifts")

I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. The blogosphere is full of comments about Microsoft going to submit (some of) their licenses to the OSI for approval, and everyone seems to be wary of what could be Redmond’s secret agenda.

While having Microsoft join the Open Source bandwagon through the front door looks, erm, weird, and I’m not that naive to think that there are no weird motives behind it and we just hit the "then you win" phase, I really don’t understand what is all the fuss about. The plain truth is, there is nothing in the OSI bylaws that forbids Microsoft to go through the ordeal of community review on license-discuss (that is until the OSI board congregates behind closed doors), and I don’t even see how such a protective attitude is going to do any good to Open Source as a whole.

The OSI is there to check license compliance, hidden agendas notwithstanding. It’s as easy as that. There are no weapons other than the OSD big bazooka (and the license proliferation sling) to forbid organizations to submit a proposal and have their license approved. This is why Microsoft’s license submission is going to be the ultimate Litmus test for our beloved organization: if (if!) the Open Source Definition is strong and comprehensive enough, having another license will not make any substantial damage. If (big if!) the OSI is strong enough, it will survive the 800pound gorilla just fine. And if none of that is the case, well, too bad but we will move on anyways.

Meanwhile, trying to understand what’s behind this Microsoft move is OK as long as it doesn’t taint the evaluation process, assuming there will be such a thing: it’s time to let the dust settle, see what Redmond really wants to submit, and, assuming all the standard OSD conditions are met, try to understand if there is anything worth the effort of leaving license proliferation issues behind. I strongly doubt that’s the case, but that’s the only ground where Microsoft will be fair game. Anything else such as rejecting the submission just because it comes from someone with a bad track record or because of potential hidden strategies we’re not aware of, will just backlash in the end.