It is a common (and very good complaint) that there are too many free and open source software licenses. Multiplicity weakens interoperability. Interoperability of innovation is key.
For sometime, Microsoft has been playing in this community. Its “Shared Source Initiative” has given at least some access to important Microsoft code.
Last week, Microsoft made a major announcement that will benefit the ecology of free and open source software licenses significantly. As described here, Microsoft has abandoned a ton of licenses, focusing its efforts on just three core licenses. Two of these three licenses — the MS-Community License (MS-CL), and the MS-Permissive License (MS-PL) are technically “free” licenses under the FSF’s definition of free. The third MS-Reference License (MS-RL) is a view-only license, not quite free, but valuable nonetheless.
This is fantastic news, reinforcing an ecology of free licenses.
(Via Lessig Blog.)