In October, Microsoft announced a tool
to allow netbooks lacking DVDs to install Windows 7; it was a key point of the new OS that it run on underpowered netbooks. Unfortunately, it improperly used GPL source code, which Microsoft admitted on Friday the 13th, a few days after pulling the tool.
Bad luck, Microsoft? Well, not really bad luck. GPL, or General Public License (open source) source code was included in the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool, which isn't off-limits, though putting a non-open-source license on a licensed tool is. The Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool was designed to modify a DVD or ISO image into a bootable image that could be put on a flash drive, to be used to install Windows 7 on DVD-less netbbooks, of which there are many. The faux pas was first noted by “Within Windows” blogger Rafael Rivera.
In a November 13th statement, Microsoft said
After looking at the code in question, we are now able to confirm this was indeed the case, although it was not intentional on our part. While we had contracted with a third party to create the tool, we share responsibility as we did not catch it as part of our code review process. We have furthermore conducted a review of other code provided through the Microsoft Store and this was the only incident of this sort we could find.
Microsoft apologized for the "inconvenience" and said that it intends to make the source code and binaries for the tool available the week of November 16th under the terms of the GPL v2. They added that they “and are also taking measures to apply what we have learned from this experience for future code reviews we perform.”