Pick a Free OS

Don't hope for open source software on Windows Phone 7 handsets

Microsoft has removed some open-source software from its Windows Phone marketplace. The company has banned applications with licensed under GPL -- such as GNU GPL -- which is used to distribute free and open-source software.

Essentially, Windows Phone developers won't be allowed to publish application code under open-source licenses. This is a ploy by Microsoft to keep its OS and application code away from review.

Microsoft has tried to exert full control over Windows Phone smartphones. It's in vast contrast to Android, which has been subjected to software patent infringements from companies like Oracle and Apple. Microsoft essentially minimizes the chances of competitors to review code and file lawsuits.

But free has its benefits. Microsoft could open its OS up to a large swathe of developers by allowing users to publish under GPLs. Not to mention goodwill, which goes a long way in making an operating system successful.

It's not like Microsoft gets the benefits of the large Windows developer ecosystem it already has -- the Windows Phone 7 writes under a different code base, for a different platform. That bridge will be gapped with Windows 8, which will work on both x86 and Arm platforms.

Microsoft's insipid moves and possessive nature could hurt them in the short term. The Windows Phone 7 interface is classified in hubs -- such as games, social media etc. -- where applications are bundled and updated automatically. The inability to modify the front page to include third-party icons is already upsetting developers.

What is Microsoft's short-sightedness is a benefit for Android. Microsoft will also upset phone users, who like to put the most-used apps on the front on the phone. Microsoft isn't only limiting the number of apps available to users by barring open-source developers, but is also upsetting users.

Microsoft joins APple in closing on open-source developers. There are some interesting examples on Rethink Wireless.

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