Windows 8 app store to allow open source apps

In what has been variously described as the result of a “loophole”, Microsoft appears to be opening up a channel for open source applications to appear on the Windows 8 app store.

Applications will need to have been released under an Open Source Initiative (OSI) recognised open source license.

NOTE: The Open Source Initiative is a non-profit corporation which acts as steward of the Open Source Definition (OSD) and is the community-recognised body for reviewing and approving licenses as OSD-conformant.

Although still at pre-release version status at this time, if this development is fully borne out in the final release it appears to be a (positive) side stepping of Microsoft’s Standard Application License Terms.

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This news could now mean that popular open source applications including

OpenOffice, GIMP and VLC Media Player would be available on the Windows 8 app store when it arrives.

NOTE: Windows 8 is expected in autumn of 2012. The Windows store is expected to appear on PCs, laptops and tablets — the Windows Phone platform already has its own ‘Marketplace’ for app downloads.

For developers, Microsoft’s open source openness will of course have its limits — and it is thought at this time that the use of open source programming languages (such as PHP, Ruby, Python etc.) to create Windows 8 apps will not be permitted. Although HTML5, JavaScript and CSS will, less surprisingly, all still feature.

So ultimately, is this Microsoft taking a more open attitude to applications than Apple?

Definitely, maybe.