Microsoft violates GPL

Microsoft has long ripped off free software. The canonical case is that when Microsoft needed to create its own TCP/IP stack, the company instead swiped one from the BSD-licensed Unixes. Years later, it seems Microsoft still can't resist stealing from open-source software.

Rafael Rivera, a Microsoft fan, reports in his "Within Windows" blog that Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool, a program to help netbook XP Home users to upgrade to Windows 7, contains "source code [that] was obviously lifted from the CodePlex-hosted (yikes) GPLv2-licensed ImageMaster project."

CodePlex is Microsoft's open-source-project-hosting site. It's also the name of Microsoft's new "open-source" non-profit group, the CodePlex Foundation. The Foundation's job is to bring open-source and proprietary software companies together to work on open-source projects. Now we know why: so Microsoft can walk off with any goodies they produce.

The Windows 7 tool, of course, has Microsoft licenses all over it, doesn't allow users any access to its source code, and makes no acknowledgments to the debt it owes to ImageMaster. So much for the GPL.

I never bought for a moment that Microsoft had any real interest in working with open-source developers except for its own benefit. This case just underlines it.

Microsoft has pulled the program for the time being. The Evil Empire has told ace-Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley that "Microsoft is looking into this issue and is taking down the WUDT tool from the Microsoft Store site until its investigations are complete. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience."

I doubt we'll ever see it again. This is a little too raw for the Microsoft of 2009.

Ironically enough, even as Microsoft was doing this, Novell was further cementing its developer ties with Microsoft by announcing Mono Tools for Visual Studio. This program enables Microsoft .NET developers to develop Mono/.NET applications with Visual Studio.

Unlike some people, I don't hate Mono, the open-source version implementation of C# and the CLR (Common Language Runtime) that is binary compatible with Microsoft.NET. I've just never believed that Microsoft would ever keep .NET stable long enough for Mono to be anything more than .NET's little brother, who was always lagging behind in any race.

With this latest example of how Microsoft really sees open-source, as an enemy to be taken advantage of whenever possible, I have even fewer reasons to trust Microsoft. I really can't recommend any open-source programmer work with Microsoft. In the end, Microsoft's goals aren't your goals: they'll do what's best for them, and if that means screwing you and open-source over, so be it.

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