CodeWeavers Licensing Questions

This page contains information and answers to frequently asked questions about CrossOver and Licensing.

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CrossOver and Microsoft

The interaction of CodeWeavers' CrossOver products with those of Microsoft raises legal issues around what Windows software can be run under Wine. In order to help our customers better understand these issues, CodeWeavers has compiled a list of commonly asked questions and their answers.

Q. Can Microsoft sue CodeWeavers or its customers for copyright infringement or reverse engineering, either for Windows or its Windows applications such as Microsoft Office?

A. No. The underlying technology utilized by CodeWeavers to enable Windows software to run under Linux is an open-source technology called Wine. Wine has been developed completely independently, with no reverse engineering and no access to Microsoft source code. The Wine source tree, with a complete revision history since the inception of the project, is freely available to the public, and demonstrates that Wine is strictly separate from Microsoft's proprietary code base.

Q. Can Microsoft prevent CodeWeavers' customers from running Microsoft applications on Linux?

A. No. Microsoft's end-user licenses do not preclude operating their applications under other operating systems. Were Microsoft to attempt to prohibit such usage, by requiring that Microsoft products be run only on the Windows OS, they would be in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The Sherman Act precludes making the usage of a non-monopoly product dependent on the purchase of a monopoly product. Microsoft has been convicted of monopolistic practices under the Sherman Act regarding their operating systems. As a result, they cannot legally make the Windows OS a prerequisite for running a Windows software application.

Q. Isn't Wine a risky new technology?

A. No. In fact, Wine has been in active use since 1993. Since then, it has been adopted by many large companies and integrated into their products, including Borland®, Google®, IBM® and Sun Microsystems® (now Oracle®). Wine is a stable, well-understood technology that is being continuously refined and enhanced.

Q. Can Microsoft change its Win32 application programming interface (API) and break Wine?

A. Sure, if they also wanted to break every other application on the planet. There is a common misperception that Microsoft changes the Win32 API on a constant basis, making it difficult for Wine to "keep up". This isn't true at all, since changing the API would break Microsoft's existing codebase, as well as those of many other software developers. So long as other software vendors produce or support programs for multiple versions of Windows, Wine will work too.

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