Microsoft sweetens licensing model

Microsoft Corp. has signed up the first commercial open-source vendor for its Shared Source licensing program, the company announced last month at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco.

SugarCRM Inc., which offers both commercial and open-source CRM (customer relationship management) software, is planning to release a new distribution of its Sugar Suite 4.5 software under one of Microsoft’s Shared Source licences, called the Microsoft Community License, according to the companies. The software will include the results of planned collaboration to enhance interoperability between Microsoft’s Windows Server OS and SugarCRM, the companies said.

Rather than support open-source licences such as the General Public Licence, or GPL, Microsoft allows companies to view and use its proprietary source code through its own Shared Source program. It also allows third parties to work with Microsoft to modify software using Microsoft source code and their own and redistribute it under the licences.

Last year, the company simplified the program by offering three core licences. The Microsoft Community License, which SugarCRM is using, allows for both non-commercial and commercial modification and redistribution of software that uses the licence. However, it gives companies modifying the source code the option to keep the code they’ve added to themselves and not return that code to the open-source community.

It preserves the code that was part of the original software. The licence also sets limits on what third parties can do with modified code that includes Microsoft source code. More restrictive is the Microsoft Reference License, which only allows licensees to view source code to Microsoft software, not actually modify or redistribute it.

The most open Shared Source licence is the Microsoft Permissive License, which allows developers and users to view, modify and redistribute source code for either commercial or non-commercial purposes. The licence also enables them to charge a licence fee for any code they’ve added to the software.

According to a Microsoft press statement, nearly 35 per cent of SugarCRM’s customers run the software on Windows Server, which is why the companies are collaborating to improve the experience of deploying SugarCRM Suite on hardware that runs Windows.

The main areas of focus are to enhance SugarCRM support for Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS) and optimize the software for use with Active Directory and Microsoft SQL Server, the companies said.

Additionally, SugarCRM will use the Windows Installer XML (Wix) tool to make it easier for users to install SugarCRM on Windows Server. Wix is the tool that prompts Windows Server users to install a new program on the OS.

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