Microsoft Admits Upgrade Tool Uses GPL Source Code

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News Posted: Sat, Nov 14 2009 10:36 AM
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.”
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Jeremy replied on Sat, Nov 14 2009 11:58 AM

Wow, first Bill Gates openly says that Steve Jobs is a really ok kinda guy, and now Microsoft actually admits to a mistake and takes steps to correct it by releasing source code?? Anybody else a little shocked by this week's Microsoft news?

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3vi1 replied on Sun, Nov 15 2009 9:26 AM

They couldn't really deny it - They were outed and independent sources already confirmed they were violating the GPL. So, they really didn't have any choice.

The next step would have been for the Software Freedom Law Center to sue them for GPL violations, and I don't think MS wanted to lose the case, further legitimize the GPL, and get all the publicity that would have come with it.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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realneil replied on Sun, Nov 15 2009 3:25 PM

So it was good software that worked at first. Now it will come out and be buggy as can be with 36 security updates to follow. Thank You!

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Pretty much sums it up.

In such cases it's better to apologize quickly and move on. Kinda like politicians do when caught cheating.

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3vi1 replied on Mon, Nov 16 2009 3:46 PM

Are you referring to the USB tool, or Windows 7? (http://hothardware.com/cs/forums/t/45635.aspx)

Hehe.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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