Letter to Microsoft to open-source MSX Bios and MSX Basic

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بواسطة Tanni

Hero (556)

صورة Tanni

06-02-2011, 16:38

Letter to Microsoft, version 4

To whom it may concern.

This is an open letter from members of the MSX community. MSX is a Z80-based international home computer standard introduced in the early 80’s featuring system software based on Microsoft products. It was widely used especially in Japan, Korea, Arabia, the former Soviet Union, Europe, especially in the Netherlands and Spain, South America, Australia and other countries with smaller communities as well. Even the Soviet Mir station was equipped with an MSX computer over a certain period of time back then, so it is of some historical importance. Over thirty companies regularly produced hardware according to that standard, and lots of hobbyists do so up to today. There is still software development, too, including competitions such as MSXdev. Several websites all over the world are dedicated to that ingenious and easy to extend home computer system.

We would like to request the general release or license of MSX BIOS and MSX BASIC including any documentation, at least a license that makes it easy to copy and modify it, without restrictions.

The MSX 1 BIOS listing has already been published in the past (Quest Publishing, 1985), and other software companies such as Borland and Hitech have released or relaxed rights on software to retro communities, so there is good precedent for agreements of this sort.

Benefits to Microsoft:

• No considerable loss to Microsoft, as it is a hobbyist scene and therefore very little chance of future revenues based on that software.

• Increasing goodwill to a community that loves the MSX standard and therefore provides free promotion of Microsoft as a whole.

• Boosting retro computing (which has been gaining broad consumer appeal), especially a system Microsoft was involved in.

• It brings to light Microsoft’s early attempts at developing standard-based operating systems which can surely only help to further Microsoft’s community image.

Why is this license/release needed?

There are several MSX emulators -- some of the most elaborated ones are blueMSX and openMSX -- running on Windows and other operating systems, allowing the expanding MSX community to experience and enjoy an MSX system without the need of physical MSX hardware; which is getting harder to obtain in working condition anyway. This allows a much wider audience to participate in the retro computing community previously restricted to owners of physical hardware.

In order to also make the use of MSX emulators available to a wider community, it would be desirable for MSX BIOS and MSX BASIC to be distributed along with these emulators, thus the catalyst for this request.

We do understand that there may be other parties (ASCII Corporation etc.) that will need to be jointly involved in this request if it is to come to pass. But we as a community are unsure about the current ownership of MSX BIOS and MSX BASIC, so, as a first step, we modestly ask for clarification on the status of each of the software titles.

Sincerely yours

بواسطة dhau

Paragon (1570)

صورة dhau

06-02-2011, 17:22

Arabia? As in Lawrence of Arabia? I think you'll be better calling it Middle-East.

بواسطة Tanni

Hero (556)

صورة Tanni

06-02-2011, 17:23

I meant arabic-speaking countries, which would include the north or Africa.

Was MSX used in the south of Africa?

بواسطة FiXato

Scribe (1733)

صورة FiXato

07-02-2011, 09:50

Just an idea that some might not like, but which might appeal to MicroSoft:
If [insert current rightsholder] will set a public (and realisitic) licensing fee (let's say 10 cents per sale) available for the current binaries, it could open up the use of emulators on the iPhone and Android app market, as emulators will be able to be sold there along with (homebrew?) games without being rejected because they are using illegal roms.

Also:
• No considerable loss to Microsoft, as it is a hobbyist scene and therefore very little chance of future revenues based on that software.

• Increasing goodwill to a community that loves the MSX standard and therefore provides free promotion of Microsoft as a whole.

Maybe combine these two into:

Increasing goodwill — at no considerable loss, as it is a hobbyist scene with very little chance of future revenues based on 20+ year old software — to a community that still loves the MSX standard and therefore provides free promotion of Microsoft as a whole.

Might need to be reworded a bit, but you get my drift I guess.

Just a last remark:
you might want to keep the letter short and concise, to prevent a "tl;dr" (too long, don't read) reaction. And, if possible, try to do a follow-up in the form of a phone call or other means of communication to indicate this is a serious request and not just some letter written on a lazy sunday morn and hope it doesn't get lost at the bottom of the (virtual) mailstack.

بواسطة Tanni

Hero (556)

صورة Tanni

07-02-2011, 18:11

Just an idea that some might not like, but which might appeal to MicroSoft:
If [insert current rightsholder] will set a public (and realisitic) licensing fee (let's say 10 cents per sale) available for the current binaries, it could open up the use of emulators on the iPhone and Android app market, as emulators will be able to be sold there along with (homebrew?) games without being rejected because they are using illegal roms.

This would be a separate thingy.


Also:
• No considerable loss to Microsoft, as it is a hobbyist scene and therefore very little chance of future revenues based on that software.

• Increasing goodwill to a community that loves the MSX standard and therefore provides free promotion of Microsoft as a whole.

Maybe combine these two into:

Increasing goodwill — at no considerable loss, as it is a hobbyist scene with very little chance of future revenues based on 20+ year old software — to a community that still loves the MSX standard and therefore provides free promotion of Microsoft as a whole.

Might need to be reworded a bit, but you get my drift I guess.

I added ''considerable'' because we cannot be sure that there isn't absolutely no loss.
I even could imagine scenarios where some kind of not negligible loss would be possible, depending on what Microsoft defines as ''not negligible''. But this would be very unlikely.

The combination of the two points isn't that good, I think, because it is too complex. I would like it to be one or two lines for easier getting the point. But you are free to add a paragraph after the list working out the points more precisely. (Go on in the style with the blodface line added, just count up the version number.) This would add to the serious appearance of the letter. And, the more points, the better, you know ...?

I also would like to add something about preserving the style of programming/coding/designing software or ''flavour of the era'' done by the scene in still using that software.


Just a last remark:
you might want to keep the letter short and concise, to prevent a "tl;dr" (too long, don't read) reaction. And, if possible, try to do a follow-up in the form of a phone call or other means of communication to indicate this is a serious request and not just some letter written on a lazy sunday morn and hope it doesn't get lost at the bottom of the (virtual) mailstack.

Yes!

We will provide some links to well known MSX websites and some e-mail addresses.

A phone call isn't a good idea, imagine the person picking the receiver never heard form MSX before. The letter should be two sides i.e. one page. If the letter is worked out enough, we also should post it on other MSX sites like MSXposse and Karochi and some brasilian sites. Are there still Japanese sites dedicated to MSX? We also should post it on emulator related sites. I thought the letter was supposed to be given to Microsoft in printed form?

... to indicate this is a serious request ... there should be some more reactions on this topic. It's annoying when questions aren't answered and just you and Manuel drop some comments and the whole work is done by tcruise and me.
Tcruise has already said that he has AS and me having health problems, too, besides other nasty things happening to me. So, I only will be able to help writing the letter.

بواسطة nikodr

Paladin (748)

صورة nikodr

07-02-2011, 21:14

Logic tells me that these people may not have problem to give permission for some old bios images,and microsoft -as i already stated- is in big trouble hunting down pirates that sell or upload pirated copies of windows products.So they would not go against us for some few kbyte roms.The key to corporation such as microsoft is the word permission,dont they say selling unauthorized copies,or using it without permission is illegal?

Now i strogly believe that if we ask them in a sincere way and only ask for permission we will get it.
And then MRC will be able to freely host the rom images of the bios.

Even now that can happen,i know mods won't allow it,but if they just left rom uploaded we would not have a call to court from microsoft,in the world of 2011 with windows 7 64bit computing it would be stupid of them to send call to court for old 16kbyte or 32 kbytes roms.I believe there is no logic behind it,this is old abandonware and not ethical to hit retro communities and let other people upload and provide links in forums regarding windows 7 cracks warez etc.

Kind regards

بواسطة luppie

Paladin (864)

صورة luppie

07-02-2011, 23:14


Logic tells me that these people may not have problem to give permission for some old bios images,

If there is only one line of code in the MSX Bios that is still used today, it's gonna be realy hard to get the licence.
I cant imagine that this is the case, but you never know.

Need a list of email contacts for the bottom, and some reference URLs e.g. www.msx.org, http://www.asciimw.jp/.

I will still make enquiries this week about possible contacts to send it to at Microsoft. Multiple deliveries will not hurt and may actually increase the likelyhood of actually getting it to an appropriate person.

We can also still look into the petition sites, for later down the track.

Probably the mailaddress at microsoft that handles these kind of questions is : Iplicreq@microsoft.com
It's the mailaddess from Microsoft Intellectual Property and Licence requests

بواسطة nikodr

Paladin (748)

صورة nikodr

08-02-2011, 03:53


If there is only one line of code in the MSX Bios that is still used today, it's gonna be realy hard to get the licence.
I cant imagine that this is the case, but you never know.

Ok i am a musician i cant use the c major scale and use it in my compositions because mozart or bach used it in theirs?It's not only the code,like music it has to do with melody lyrics etc.Besides we are talking about z80 machine code,which pc x86 or x64 runs z80 code ported from msx bios?I guess even if in the case of fat the language is different,different processor different hex codes.

بواسطة tcruise

Master (133)

صورة tcruise

08-02-2011, 07:03

Probably the mailaddress at microsoft that handles these kind of questions is : Iplicreq@microsoft.com
It's the mailaddess from Microsoft Intellectual Property and Licence requests

Thanks had not found that one myself as yet as I was thinking of other channels. I have sent off a request for contact information through one of my known contacts as well, so give that a few days, and we can then see which is the best place to the final document to.

بواسطة pitpan

Prophet (3152)

صورة pitpan

08-02-2011, 09:43

Probably no-one at Microsoft in junior positions will know about what a Z80 is. Therefore, maybe would be better to just say "8-bit homecomputer" instead. Please keep in mind that several legacy systems are still highly profitable for big companies, so it would be a good a idea to separate the MSX from these other high-profit market niches.

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