Did Microsoft Windows 7 download tool violate the GPL?

Summary:Microsoft has pulled an update tool for Windows 7 from the Microsoft Store site after a report indicating that the tool incorporated open-source code in a way that violated the GNU General Public License.

Microsoft has pulled an update tool for Windows 7 from the Microsoft Store site after a report indicating that the tool incorporated open-source code in a way that violated the GNU General Public License.

Rafael Rivera of the "Within Windows" blog reported on November 6 that he had found something suspicious when mucking around int he code for the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. (That tool, which Microsoft made available on October 22, is designed to help netbook users upgrade from XP to Windows 7 in a more streamlined way.)

On November 9, Microsoft pulled the download tool from its site. A spokesperson sent me the following update:

"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."

Rivera noted that the Microsoft tool may violate more than a few GPL terms and conditions. From his post:

"A simple search of some method names and properties, gleaned from Reflector’s output, revealed the source code was obviously lifted from the CodePlex-hosted (yikes) GPLv2-licensed ImageMaster project. (The author of the code was not contacted by Microsoft.)...

"Microsoft did not offer or provide source code for their modifications to ImageMaster nor their tool.... Second, Microsoft glued in some of their own licensing terms, further restricting your rights to the software (TermsOfUse.rtf)."

Microsoft has run afoul of the GPL licensing terms on a few occasions. Most recently, there were questions raised by some in the open-source community about Microsoft's motives for making some of its drivers available for inclusion in the Linux source tree. (Microsoft officials maintained that the company didn't release the source code because of potential legal issues; some in the open-source community begged to differ.)

Stay tuned for more on this, as Microsoft proceeds with its investigation....

Topics: CXO, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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