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Microsoft Takes Responsibility For GPL Violation 364

Posted by Soulskill
from the owning-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes with an update to the news we discussed last weekend that a Windows 7 utility seemed to contain GPL code: "Microsoft has confirmed that the Windows 7 USB/DVD tool did, in fact, use GPL code, and they have agreed to release the tool's source code under the terms of GPLv2. In a statement, Microsoft said creation of the tool had been contracted out to a third party and apologized for not noticing the GPL code during a code review."
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Microsoft Takes Responsibility For GPL Violation

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  • by therealmorris (1366945) on Friday November 13, 2009 @08:14PM (#30093570)
    This tool isn't part of Windows 7, it's just used if you buy the download version of Windows 7 from the MS store. If it was actually part of Windows 7 i think there would have been a much bigger fuss!
  • Implications (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) * <> on Friday November 13, 2009 @08:16PM (#30093582) Homepage Journal

    I wouldn't want to be the consulting company that provided Microsoft with this code. They're in some deep doo-doo now. Unfortunately, a lot of engineers are so clueless about licensing, as are their managers, that it is really possible that the person who did this didn't know it was a problem.

    But this is not anything new for Microsoft. Microsoft started contributing to GCC around 10 years ago, for the former Unix services product. And this really serves their purpose if they are trying to scare people away from the GPL. "Microsoft forced to give up source code."

    Where they are really hurting us now is in government policy and patented technology in interoperability facilities. Like the European Interoperability Framework going proprietary, and the MS-patented filesystem in next-generation FLASH devices. Consider stuff like that before you decide they are a "good citizen".

  • by ivan256 (17499) on Friday November 13, 2009 @08:31PM (#30093706)

    The main tool out there to do that is from Black Duck, and it's an unmitigated piece of trash that is designed for the sole purpose of scamming stupid CTOs and CEOs.

    Their piece of crap database isn't even audited, so it attributes tons of code to people who stole it themselves and lists it under the wrong license. Then, if that wasn't enough, it produces so many false positives that anybody tasked with running it sets it up just enough to appease their incompetent boss while routing the results directly to /dev/null.

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Friday November 13, 2009 @08:43PM (#30093790)

    This was a USB/DVD burning tool offered on by Microsoft to help people install Windows 7 by burning the iso to USB/DVD. As far as I know, it is not included in Windows 7.

  • Re:Good on MS (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rip Dick (1207150) on Friday November 13, 2009 @08:45PM (#30093802)
    Why wouldn't he praise Jobs? Last I heard, Bill owned a decent share of Apple's stock.
  • Re:obvious! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) * on Friday November 13, 2009 @09:20PM (#30094082) Homepage Journal

    I can't decide if you're trolling, or naive. Microsoft needs no permission to use GPL'd stuff. Neither does anyone else. It's a copy left. EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO USE IT!! There are a few restrictions on giving credit to the owners, releasing source, etc - but they are ALLOWED TO USE IT.

    I can't imagine any individual, corporation, group, or consortium who might be denied the right to use GPL code, AS LONG AS they abide by the terms of the license.

    By releasing (or making available) the source code, and giving proper credit to the authors, MS complies with the terms of the GPL license.

    It's really not that hard to understand, is it?

  • Re:Good on MS (Score:5, Informative)

    by CokoBWare (584686) on Friday November 13, 2009 @09:50PM (#30094246)
    If you worked at Microsoft, you'd know that it takes patience and time away from the horrific workload and schedules to code review every third-party thing that came through the door. When I worked at Microsoft, our vendor routinely used code they weren't supposed to EVEN THOUGH it was in their contract not to. I would sometimes come across a bug somewhere and I'd find something stolen off the net, and I'd have to pull it and reprimand the vendor, and then get them to do the work and pay them for it again. It's easy to sit at your computer desk and pontificate about how MS is trying to pull a fast one on everyone. Shit, if you only knew how ingrained in the culture it is to homegrow everything, and steal nothing. Very strong corporate policies there at MS, and everyone is subject to disciplinary action if you've intentionally tried to pull a fast one in one way shape or form. Trust me, the Program Manager who owns that tool is shitting in his/her pants, as it's going on their performance review for not tightening up on code quality. From my experience there, MS takes this shit seriously.
  • by MaliciousSmurf (960366) on Friday November 13, 2009 @09:51PM (#30094250)
    Nope. All that heat has to go somewhere. As hell freezes, Earth burns. Thermodynamics, woo. Unless hell is adiabatic. In which case I'm royally screwed. As is the first law.
  • Re:Good on MS (Score:4, Informative)

    by Svartalf (2997) on Friday November 13, 2009 @10:07PM (#30094320) Homepage

    Indeed. I applaud them for swiftly and appropriately handling the problem- to the point of taking the high-road for a change and offering the changed source code up instead of simply pulling it all out.

    It doesn't make up for what they've done over the years (and apparently still doing...sadly...) but it's a good start in the right direction.

  • Re:Good on MS (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 14, 2009 @12:16AM (#30094986)

    Normally I hate GPL'ers as much as the next boffin (MIT/BSD 4 lyf), but Microsoft (specifically Ballmer) have gone on record saying that "GPL is a cancer". As a business, it would be incredibly foolish of them NOT to use this to leverage sympathy from other businesses - all it costs them is alienation of a competitor who already hates them (whoop-de-doo), and they stand to gain substantial contracts from other businesses who see how GPL can ruin their business (the cost of Microsoft products would clearly be cheaper than the costs of open-sourcing your flagship product). Whether or not they engineered this situation is another matter (and highly laughable claim), but the fact remains that Microsoft are almost obligated to leverage this situation into a benefit for them (anything else would be borderline negligent).

  • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot.pitabred@dyndns@org> on Saturday November 14, 2009 @12:45AM (#30095086) Homepage
    Go ahead and apologize [] to your post's parent. Choice quote:

    "The way the license is written, if you use any open-source software, you have to make the rest of your software open source," Ballmer explained

  • Re:Good on MS (Score:2, Informative)

    by JadedApprentice (1449111) on Saturday November 14, 2009 @12:53PM (#30098442)
    There ARE commercial tools for this. Black Duck comes to mind - my employer uses it to search for and manage all usage of open source [ [] ]

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.