It seems that both Apple and Microsoft prohibit GPLv3-licensed software in the app stores for their locked-down devices (i.e. iOS, Windows Phone and the Metro part of Windows). I have heard various explanations for this. However: Would they even be able to allow this license in their app stores if they wanted to, or does the GPL's anti-tivoization clause already prohibit this?

  • 2
    As I understand it, the impossibility of compliance is the reason why the iOS App Store does not allow GPL apps. Oct 6, 2012 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


Apple effectively ban any GPL because they only allow redistribution through the store and by registered developers. So if you distribute the GPL to your users they cannot abide by it.

Apple could simply allow any GPL app to be redistributed by any user through a free section of the site - but chose not to. Ironically OSX is based on a free BSD Unix kernel.

Microsoft have an historical objection to "the cancer of open source" and their licence explicitly bans any open source licenced app that requires redistribution of source (ie GPL). This is their right, it's a business decision - just like banning sales in a particular country. As their position in the market becomes less dominant they might change their mind

  • 1
    The bit about MS is deliberately provocative given their current attitude towards open source c.f. aspnetwebstack.codeplex.com There's a huge difference between prohibiting use of GPL and prohibiting "Open Source" (assuming use of less extreme licences than the GPL)
    – Murph
    Oct 7, 2012 at 14:58
  • "Any license that requires redistribution at no charge is excluded." regmedia.co.uk/2011/02/17/… Oct 7, 2012 at 16:41
  • @MartinBeckett: almost no license requires that. The GPL is pretty much alone in this respect. Oct 17, 2012 at 10:35
  • 1
    @MartinBeckett: No license whatsoever requires redistribution at no charge. The quote is however incorrect. The actual wording does exclude GPL.
    – Jan Hudec
    Oct 25, 2012 at 7:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.